Will New Finance Minister Fix Sierra Leone’s Economic Problem?
Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura the third minister to the Finance Ministry under President Julius Maada Biosa government. He replaced the sacked minister, Dennis Vandi who many expected would rectify the economic disaster when he was appointed last year. He replaces Jacob Jusu Saffa, the third most important post in the executive arm.
Bangura comes at a time Sierra Leone is grappling with several economic challenges exchange rate is bad, inflation grice of goods and service) is high trade terms are weak goods there is a perennial, balance ist payment deficit, business is slow consumer spending Joy and budget deficits still exists among others.
The most acute problem, the new minister is expected to solve is the poor exchange rate between the Leone and the dollar A US$100 is slowly eating close to Le2, 000, 000 (two million Leones), making it difficult for Sierra Leonean businessmen who ventures in international trade.
The consumers however bears the worst brunt of the weak exchange rate Sierra Leone has been persistently rated the worst in inflation ranking for the past four years. Professor Hanke’s inflation dashboard indicate dangerous double- digit figures that continue to impact badly on the people or Sierra Leone. It is extremely difficult for a low-income earner to afford the basics of life at this moment.
A bag of rice which was Le200, 000 (two hundred thousand Leones) had tripled that amount. It is now sold at Le600, 000 (sex hundred thousand Leones). A litre of fuel (petroleum, diesel and Kerosene) was Leb, 000 six thousand Leones before the then APC All People’s Congress) Government left power in 2018 Now, it Le19, 500 (nineteen five hundred Leones).
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Transport fare in the country was a bit appreciable in pre-2018, passengers would pay Le 45, 000 (forty-five thousand Leones) when they travelled from Freetown to Bo, the Southern capital. Now the fare stands at Le 90,000 (ninety thousand Leones) from Freetown to Bo.
One could pay Le 130, 000 (one hundred and thirty thousand Leones) From Freetown to Kenema, and over Le 400,000 (four hundred thousand Leones) from Freetown to. Kailahun. The transport fare also remains high from the city to several parts of the country. Even movement within the city has been considerably curtailed owing to drivers exploitation of commuters. With such hike in fares, who is willing to travel? Who are also willing to afford the cost?
It is safe to say that little is achieved when movement is restricted within the nation’s capital, and the country at large, Sierra Leone also continues to suffer at the global economic front. As a primary producer, the country always faces unfavorable terms of trade. Sierra Leone is a price taker at international trade since she cannot polish her goods.
Diamonds, Gold, Rutile Iron Ore are exported in their raw form. Even Cacao, ginger and other agricultural produce exported raw, a factor that badly weakens the country’s economy. The problem of balance of payment deficit is interlinked with that of weak trade terms Global markets do not pay good prices for Sierra Leonean produce result into weak terms of trade.
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These are some of the problems the new Finance Minister is expected to solve if Bio’s government is to earn the rest he deserves.