By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
When a country decides to forgo a well-seasoned economist who has had stints with both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for someone who has been unemployed for over 20 years; when a government develops the proclivity of putting rectangular pegs in triangles; when a ruling party decides to make tribalism a yardstick for hiring and sacking, and when a President who is still wet behind the ears employs “Drunkardnomists” to steer his country’s economy; then the only thing that is expected of that nation is a “stupid economy”.
And the stupidity with which the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has been running the economy of the country is being highlighted by the World Bank in its report of 11 July 2019 titled: “The Sierra Leone Economic Update (SLEU)”. In it we are told that under the SLPP’s directionless “New Direction”, Sierra Leone’s “growth is still low (3.7 percent)”. In that report also, the daydreamers in the SLPP are being yanked from their reveries when they are told that “inflation and exchange rate depreciation are high (16.8 and 7.3 percent, respectively)”, and that the “increasing debt has resulted in the country being downgraded from moderate to high risk of debt distress”.
But I will be surprised if you are surprised at the manner in which President Bio’s extremely qualified economists have been plugging the “leakages” with more leakages. I will be surprised if you are surprised at the economic rowdiness with which the so-called highly over-educated SLPP operatives have been conducting themselves like “drunken sailors” who are engaged in a brawl over who should sleep with the only whore in the bar! I am still trying to fathom how the Bio administration could try to control, or stabilize, the Wage Bill by over-bloating the Wage Bill itself.
And I have never minced my words that the manner in which the SLPP government is running the country could be likened to a group of half-assed carpenters trying to do a welder’s job! And the result has been, and will always be, poor handling of Sierra Leone’s economy through meaningless debts. Yet, in the midst of the country’s current bleak economic situation, and prospects, President Julius Maada Bio could still burden the nation further by perennially flying out of the country as if he is the CEO of The Boeing Company!
But I should be minding my own business least the SLPP government conjures Part Five of the 1965 Public Order Act. But if the State whose cardinal duty, under the clichéd “Social Contract”, is to provide sound economic policies so that citizens can be able to provide for their families is unable to do so because of economic recklessness; then it behoves me to develop a survivalist’s instinct. That’s why I have decided to create my own staple food.
Members of my family can still be relishing their rice and “plasas” or soup, but I have decided that “Tapalapa” bread, chicken stew, and mangoes should be my daily food. In fact, it would be taken as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I know some of my readers might accuse me of using a shortcut to weight loss with such a frugal diet. But if our Head of State, Julius Maada Bio, could go all the way to neighbouring Guinea to look out for a “Tapalapa” bread investor, and could also go as far as Uganda to visit a poultry with the aim of possible investment, coupled with a trip to Rwanda to further look for a Mango investor; then one should know the premium which the SLPP government wants to put on “Tapalapa” bread, chickens, and mangoes.
But come to think of it, if the President is really serious about developing Sierra Leone’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) then why should he go to neighbouring Guinea to look out for a “Tapalapa” bread investor when the country has its trademark Red Lion Bread? Or why should President Bio go as far as Uganda to look for an investor in the poultry business when we have our own well-established Sierra Akkar Poultry which has been up-to-speed with international standards for over four years now? Maybe, or maybe not; it appears as if the Red Lion Bread doesn’t fit the SLPP government’s principal criterion for local empowerment simply because it is owned by a Krio family. Or that Sierra Akkar Poultry also seems to fit into that SLPP’s categorization because it is owned by a Temne.
Probably, just a probability, if either is being owned by a “Ngor” from the southern or eastern part of the country, maybe the story of empowering our local industries might have been different.
And the tragedy of Sierra Leone is that it is now being ruled by a group of Mr Know-It-Alls which seems not to have a clue on how to lure foreign investors to the country. And that tragedy is now taking a comic slant with the belief of these Mr Know-It-Alls that Sierra Leone’s economy is now in the best of hands. But the World Bank, in its “The Sierra Leone Economic Update (SLEU)” report of 11 July 2019, thought otherwise because under the current directionless New Direction: “inflation and exchange rate depreciation are high…[and] increasing debt has resulted in the country being downgraded from moderate to high risk of debt distress”.
But that is always expected in any country where an inexperienced Head of State employs “Drunkardnomists” to steer his country’s economy. And because Sierra Leone’s economy seems to be heading for the abyss; I will be relishing my “Tapalapa” bread and chicken stew with mangoes being the fruits after my brand-new staple meal!
So Lord, give us (well, me of course) this day our (my) daily “Tapalapa” bread, chicken stew, and mangoes. And can someone say “Amen” to that?