Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa has criticised government for an inflated expenditure. He says the move makes it difficult to provide the much-needed essential services, according to Minster Saffa, have been set up since government came to power in 2018.
Saffa says SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) government has made a fatal mistake that will hunt the party during elections. “We made a mistake by enlarging our government, more embassies/foreign missions, more MDAs and massive salary increment across the board for cabinet members and heads of agencies,” Saffa said.
He went on to state that government’s wage bill has doubled that of the previous government. “Our government wage bill is almost double the previous government wage bill,” he stressed.
The Chief Minister went on to state that SLPP government had not been generating enough revenue to service the huge expenditure.
Owing to a weak revenue, Saffa went on, government had acquired more debts than the past government. A highly indebted government finds it difficult to deliver services to their people.
Grumblings and lack of trust in governance is a feature of a group of people whose government has failed them. These grumblings are heard especially in government strongholds.
The Chief Minister has confirmed that SLPP supporters in south-east Sierra Leone are not happy with government.
“Our supporters in the southeast are complaining a lot that things are hard for them,” he said.
Sierra Leone, according to the Chief Minister is in an “unannounced austerity.” He says most of them (ministers) are working hard, but things do not happen the way government wanted them to be.
Saffa who seem worried and jittery of a defeat in 2023 called on ministers to tighten their belts or situation will not be in favour of government. “Ladies and gentlemen, let us brace up tight in our workplace because it looks like situations are not in our favour. A lot of us are working, but it is like things are not working the way we want it to be,” he said.
If ministers fail to answer to the Chief Minister’s call, hope for an SLPP victory is not there. “Let us work hard and pray that things turn around or else I am afraid,”
Since SLPP came to power, SAFFA was Minister of Finance, a portfolio he held for close to there years. He is still remembered for his “Bread-and Butter’ economics which he announced while presenting the budget in parliament last year. The ‘Bread-and-Butter’ mantra is supposed to be a pro-poor policy, but it has turned out the other way.
A number of Sierra Leoneans live on hand-to-mouth survival. Such a policy would have been embraced had it meant well for the people. Since the policy was announced, prices of commodity have shot up spelling hard life for many Sierra Leoneans.
Price for 50kg of rice is now close to Le 400,000 (US$40). Price hikes for other food condiments have also worsened the condition of have-nots. Cries for hard life have been heard particularly in the transport sector than any other.
The persistent increase in the price of petroleum products has become a constant source of worry for commuters especially those in Freetown. The current fare has doubled if not tripled the normal one, a worrisome situation for commuters in Freetown.
A commuter now pays Le7,000 (Seven thousand Leones) where Le3,000 (Three thousand Leones) wa previously paid for the same distance. Fears of another increase in prices of petroleum have gripped an already panic-stricken public.
The price is expected to rise from Le10,000 (ten thousand Leones) to Le12,000 (twelve thousand Leones) in coming months.
Riders or motor cycle owners especially commercial motorists are busy stockpiling on their stock for future reserve. It is indisputable that when price of petroleum shoots up in filling stations, the price also rises in the ‘black market.’
According to Nightwatch Newspaper, consumer price indices of 2019 and 2020 do not write good news on inflation in the country. The inflation is still double-digit despite efforts to make it single-digit.
Minister Saffa who managed the economy for a long time was quite defensive of the country’s economic state. It is only now that he is admitting by calling his ministers to sit tight in their seats to avoid a defeat.
But many Sierra Leoneans say nothing can prevent SLPP government from losing the elections in 2023. The election is just a year more to go. The people of Sierra Leone are determined, and only a miracle that can save SLPP in the not-too-distant future.