By KABS KANU :
NEW YORK : Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, has said that the present economic slowdown in the country was not caused by mismanagement and so “When we speak, we are not giving any excuses ; we just want people to understand “.
The ambassador made the statement to the Government International Media Network of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN while giving his perspective on the recent austerity measures imposed by the Sierra Leone Government.
Ambassador Sumah asserted that the economic indicators from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) clearly showed that the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma was managing the economy well before the Ebola Outbreak and the slump in the international market of the commodity prices of Sierra Leone’s iron ore, which brought the economic slowdown.
“We were not 100% perfect”, Ambassador Sumah said, ” but when we took off in 2007, we were better off from where we started”, he firmly emphasized . “Therefore, President Koroma is not to be defended . We just want our people and the international community what happened and put the economic slowdown in its proper perspective . When we speak, we are not offering any defensive mechanisms. The IMF/ World Bank documents are there to prove that we managed the economy well and few years ago, before the Ebola outbreak, we had one of the fastest growing economies in the world. ”
Ambassador Sumah stressed that the IMF/ World Bank Reviews on the economy “gave the government pluses . We started from a weak point in 2007 and aggregated to a high point through sound economic management before Ebola struck us and the prices of our iron ore fell in the commodity markets ” .
Another very interesting and important point the Ambassador raised was that President Koroma responded well to the slowdown by imposing austerity measures, instead of going cap-in-hand begging as other governments have done before.
“Very significantly, President Koroma ensured that these austerity measures affected everybody including government ministers and public officials, not the public alone , ” the Permanent Representative stated. The measures that affect ministers and officials include no new procuments of government vehicles until further notices ; a 50% cut in fuel allocations in all MDAs ; a 50% cut in public imprests ; no purchase of new office furniture and fittings ; a 50% cut in DSAs for local travels ; elimination of payments for overtime ; no purchase of office equipment, including computers, printers and photocopiers; suspension of all overseas travel for public officials except for essential and statutory travels; no DSA top-up for sponsored international travels ; 50 % cut in vehicle maintenance, etc. Ambassador Sumah averred that it was the first time a government in the country had sought to reverse an economic slump by adoping measures that first affected public officials instead of going to borrow money.
Ambassador Sumah said that the message of the austerity measures is SACRIFICE . “The people sacrifice and government officials , who are part of the populace, sacrifice , ” he explained.
The ambassador is positive that the austerity measures will help to resuscitate the Sierra Leone economy.