By Idrissa Salaam Conteh
The devastating hardship we are currently experiencing in Sierra Leone didn’t come unnoticed. It was boldly written on the wall.
When the deteriorating economic situation first reared its head, the APC administration declared austerity measures to prevent the economy from collapsing.
Austerity measures are adopted when a government is unable to raise enough revenue to the state. Measures usually taken include raising taxes and minimizing government expenditures.
This was what happened in the country before the SLPP took over from the APC. Sierra Leone was inherited on a life support machine. Mama Salone was bound to die in a short period had the APC not gone.
However, the coming of the SLPP delayed the demise of Mama Salone. Even APC officials ran out of cash and cleared all the country’s monies from the Government commercial banks under cover of taking loans with no intention of repayment.
Now, Mama Salone is once more in deep coma, and from all indications, there is no hope of recovery. The New Direction introduced a free education policy without expanding revenue collection. The mining companies have been shut down making an already bad economic situation worse.
The free education program is undustainsble because the government has not increased revenue collection to sustain it.
All what we hear from government officials is expenditure and very little on creating avenues for revenue collection. When journalists question officials about the growing rampant inflation in the country, they are intimidated with PhDs and Cambridge University education.
The New Direction has got everything wrong and the economy is bound to crash with excruciating consequences. Today, there is widespread hunger, poverty and hardship which is getting closer to the collpase of the economy under President JS Momoh in the 1980s and early 1990s.
What is making matters worse for the New Direction is the fact that officials have remained in a state of denial about the appalling economic situation in the country.
Finance minister, JJ Saffa a few months ago disrespected a journalist during an interview on FM 98.1 when he arrogantly remarked that Sierra Leoneans who were talking about inflation and hardship were “talking belful talk “.
If the country’s economy is as bad as it is, and officials are in a state of denial, it portrays the government as being insensitive and arrogant.
We do not have minimum intelligence to run even a small village let alone a whole country. We are people created with chicken hearts and this explains why our knowledge doesn’t go beyond what to eat for the day.
There’s too much display of flamboyance and pomposity by government officials who keep touring the globe for reasons only known to them.
We cannot move out of poverty and misery. Where have we invested in 58 years to be able to become self reliant? Have we invested in agriculture, technology, industry, infrastructure, trade, or in terrorism to generate enough revenue to keep the economy running?
There’s no food for idlers. We want to reap without sowing! We keep lavishing praises on rogues and crooks who have looted and destroyed our economy to what it is out of stone age tribal and partisan loyalty.
The hunger and hardship we’re currently experiencing could be a tip of the iceberg. The agenda for prosperity is a distant dream.
We are destined to rot in chronic poverty and misery !