Recently, the contractor supplying rice to the Sierra Leone Correctional Services (SLCS) appears to be on a mission to blackmail the government over an alleged debt owed him, with the Ministry of Finance being the target of disparagement.

The contractor even seems to have contracted some journalists and social media bloggers to paint the Finance Ministry and its officials very badly.

While he has stopped the supply of rice to SLCS for over six months now, he is said to be going all over the place blaming it on the Ministry of Finance for not paying him an alleged sum of about NLe20 million for supply he has previously done.

It has now emerged, however, that the contractor’s failure to supply rice to SLCS over the period has nothing to do with nonpayment from the Finance Ministry but it’s simply as a result of incompetence on his part.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance have confirmed to this medium that the issue of backlog rice supply at the SLCS was purely one that has to do with the contractor’s lack of competence and bad decision-making on the part of the Sierra Leone Correctional Centre authorities who have allegedly failed to take the right action against their contractor.

Finance officials expressed dismay over the said contractor’s inability to supply the SLCS for being owed only 20 billion old leones, while the contractors for other security sectors, such as the Sierra Leone Police Rice Contractor, continue to dole out supplies of rice without any backlog with February supply already made, even as they are owed close to 100 billion old leones.

Meanwhile, deprived prison officers say the leadership of SLCS should have long terminated the service of the contractors for failing to live up to expectations but that they would keep babysitting him, probably, because of the kickbacks some people are benefitting from the contract.

For always halting the supply of rice to SLCS anytime he is owed, the contractor seems to be like those fly-by-night investors who would seek contracts only for kickbacks, but without any rich financial base, and soon become cash strapped upon little pre-financing of the contracts they handle.

But why he can’t decide to relinquish the contract other than allegedly paying journalists to trade bad news against the government while the terms of the contract call for him to pre-finance his activities is what well-meaning investors say they cannot fathom.

As we went to press last evening, calls were rife for the authorities to swiftly nip this contractor’s blackmail tactics right in the bud before he could cause major image injury to the government, the Ministry of Finance in particular.