In search of a New Direction, and the right direction, Sierra Leoneans in the March 2018 presidential elections voted for the Sierra Leone People’s Party Government headed by Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
In his own words, after his election, President Bio assured the nation that his Government is ready to maximize our country’s potential for development because we believe that development sustains emerging, successful, and stable democracies like ours.
In this light, there is no reason for Sierra Leoneans who truly love the country and want it to succeed to rise from poverty to collective prosperity to doubt that President Bio’s reform minded New Direction government will not succeed and not only succeed but do so resoundingly.
As assurance of his commitment to development, when he addressed parliament at its 5th opening, he told MPs and the nation: “I am here this morning to translate my campaign promises as articulated in the New Direction People’s Manifesto into policy actions.
The underlying principles of the New Direction are Disciplined Leadership, Integrity, Efficiency, Professionalism and Delivery.
He added that taking tough policy actions is imperative to tackle the current serious economic situation that we have inherited.
Along this state governance line, one of the key objectives of President Bio’s national development agenda is to provide the poor of this country with relief. For effective delivery on this campaign promises, he appointed Mohamed Fuad Daboh to head NASSIT.
NASSIT is charged with the responsibility of administering the country’s National Pension Scheme, a Social Security Scheme that provides financial security to all employees in Sierra Leone in the form of old age benefits, invalidity benefits and survivors’ benefits based on social insurance principles.
Mr. Daboh who was deputy DG before becoming DG will manage the disbursement of the new minimum monthly pension of Le250, 000 for pensioners’ approved by parliament in the 2019 budget.
NASSIT as a very strong institution will also contribute to the success of the New Direction by instituting investments that help create job for Sierra Leoneans.
Another key pillar of the New Direction government’s success is the National Revenue Authority headed by Dr Samuel Jibao.
Under his leadership, NRA has not only redefined itself but has risen up to the stature of a record breaking revenue collector that has reached a current average of about Le20 billion per day. In 9 months, under Dr Jibao, NRA has raked in a record Le3.13 Trillion.
Critically, the revenue collected by the NRA is used for carrying out national development using mainly locally generated revenues. This include the payment of the public sector wage and implementing infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, schools, provision of energy, etc.
Under Dr Jibao’s leadership, it is certain that NRA will continue to formulate and implement plans for developing and maintaining an effective, fair and efficient revenue collection system, as well as continue instituting preventive measures aimed at counteracting fraud and other forms of fiscal evasion.
To mention NRA’s Dr Jibao as a strong pillar of the New Direction’s success leaving out the Minister of Finance Jacob Jusu Saffa is to do great injustice to a man on whom President Bio reposes a lot of confidence for the proper macroeconomic restructuring of a collapsed economy for it to bounce back into health and robust productivity.
In which direction, addressing the Speaker and MPs, his Ministry’s 2019 Budget describes the policies and programs aimed at restoring fiscal discipline, diversification of the economy for sustained inclusive growth and job creation, promotion of human capital development while at the same time increasing the role of the private sector and expanding social protection services consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the new National Development Plan.
Also critical to the success of New Direction is the head of the Anti Corruption Commission, Francis Kaifala. Speaking in November at a press conference held at the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. said that in barely 5 months the institution has been able to achieve 100% conviction of all the cases it has sent to court, whilst it has been able to recover over Le7 billion from those with whom a settlement agreement has been reached to repay out of budget funds utilized by them.
Confidence in the government’s ability to fight corruption and to manage the economy well has convinced IMF to return to the country’s aid after suspending it in November 2017.
Also, international partners who had withheld budgetary support from the past government, such as the European Union, DfID, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank, have now indicated their confidence in our credible management of the economy by reinstating budgetary support.
Success of the New Direction Government depends on President Bio’s determination and readiness to do more as a government.
As such the Government stresses on its continued commitment towards free quality education for all, national unity, inclusive growth, food security, effective management of the country's resources, creating the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
In addition to the government’s firm commitment to good governance and prudent and accountable management of our nation’s resources, it remains committed to foster a conducive and congenial environment for credible GDP growth.
Critical to the success of the New Direction government is our bilateral partners to help deliver on the expectations of our people with development funds, technical assistance, and the cultivation of valuable trade links.
Also critical to the success of the government are credible investors to help the country achieve economic diversity and increased production in all areas of the economy, whilst crating much needed jobs, incomes and tax revenues.