|PRIORITY AREAS OF THE NEW DIRECTIONS
Philosophy and Ideology of the SLPP
The Sierra Leone People’s Party’s overriding philosophy of a unified Sierra Leone is enshrined in its motto of “One Country, One People” and is supported by the Party’s ideological brand of “Social Democracy” which seeks to merge the effectiveness of the market economy initiative with the innate compassion of state intervention in protecting the vulnerable and the marginalized in society, ensuring optimal production and wealth creation whilst assuring social justice. It is this ideology that will inform the economic and social programmes of future SLPP Governments and one on which our future manifesto and national programmes will be based.
The SLPP as a ‘social democratic’ party under a future Maada Bio Administration will assiduously work towards the attainment of “A Better Sierra Leone” adopting “A New Direction”.
In simple language, the concept of ‘A New Direction’ means doing the old things in a new way for better results. The New Direction will be guided by the following principles:
- A united country where diversity is respected
- A country where the interest of the country supersedes all considerations
- Accountability of results and end to impunity
- Zero tolerance for corruption
- Respect for human rights, upholding the rule of law and promoting justice
Priorities for the New Direction
It is commonly the case that every sector of governance makes a claim to be of the utmost priority especially where there is fierce competition for limited national resources. In the case of Julius Maada Bio’s concept of ‘A New Direction’, for Sierra Leone, the main priorities shall broadly include the following:
- Youth training and employment;
- Efficient and effective management of the nation’s natural resources and the economy;
- Human capital development through quality education and improved health care;
- Eliminating hunger;
- Fighting corruption and improving accountability;
- Respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law;
- Empowerment of women; and
- Building and maintaining a sound infrastructure
Youth Training and Employment
Our youth population (15-35 years) currently stands at 60 to 65 per cent of total population. The ideal of ‘a new Direction’ presuppose that the November elections are about putting the youth at
the centre of development and in the driving seat to seek a New Direction for Sierra Leone. Across the country, dynamic young people are striving to make an impact on national development. They play a crucial role in the on-going democratization and peace-building processes. They are our greatest national asset, which we can ill-afford to squander because today’s young people are the next generation of workers, entrepreneurs and leaders.
Investment in education, training and youth development has been unacceptably low. This has resulted in weak opportunities for youth employment. Consequently, the proportion of underutilized and unemployable youth among the total youth population is increasing in alarming proportions and could easily become fodder for future conflict.
In the New Direction, we view the Sierra Leone youth problem as a human development and security challenge. We must give it the utmost attention if the country is to drive further the consolidation of peace and capacity building for a prosperous nation.
Overall, the focus of ‘A New Direction’ regarding youth training, employment and development will involve the following:
- Providing technical skills in areas relevant for the Sierra Leonean Job market
- Investing in tertiary education to train our youth in employable skills
- Establishing a National Youth Service Scheme
- Establishing a Special Youth Empowerment Fund to provide for youth capacity building and entrepreneurial financial support
- Promoting youth engagement in agriculture and
- Developing and encouraging job creation in the private sector.
Efficient and Effective Management of Natural Resources and the Economy
Mining is second only to agriculture for both employment and income generation. The prospects for additional discoveries of mineral deposits in the country are looking bright as mineral exploration is being intensified throughout the length and breadth of the country. It is estimated that within the next decade, we could well see the establishment of four new large-scale mines (one diamond mine and three gold mines) in the country. Direct and indirect employment in the mining sector could thus grow exponentially.
The present Government has been demanding advance taxation from mining companies to finance especially its infrastructure projects. This is money that should be due in future and could be used for other developmental purposes. To collect these monies and use them under dubious circumstances with suspicions of kickbacks being paid for infrastructure projects is illicit and grossly unfair to any future government.
A recent report by civil society Not sharing the loot (with extracts reproduced in the January 2012 issue of Africa Confidential) states that in 2010, the mining industry accounted for 60% ($200 mn.) of the country’s exports and 8% ($24 mn.) of government revenue. Government revenue from mining accounted for only 1.1% of GDP. Companies paid the government a mere 2.2% of the export value of minerals as tax; only Sierra Rutile paid corporate tax, the others reported heavy losses and so paid no tax at all. As a result, the government raised only $2.4 million from the mining sector or 10% of its total revenue from the sector. Thus, companies paid considerably lower than the stipulated 37.5% corporation tax or the general company tax rate of 30%. They also had a considerable number of waivers or reduction in other fiscal imports.
Many mining companies are also using our natural resources as collateral to raise huge amounts of investments without having the country to share in the financial windfall. Even worse, the Government recently auctioned for pittance the country’s shares in Sierra Rutile, the only mining company that paid its corporate tax.
Confidence in the government by mining companies is waning as regards security of tenure, consistency of policies and stability of the fiscal regime. The sector is plagued by poor community participation in agreements, bad employment practices for Sierra Leoneans and poor local empowerment.
- Petroleum resources are another national asset the management of which is another source of concern. International competitive bidding and international best practice are concepts that appear still alien to our present governance system in Sierra Leone. Whereas other African
- countries make acquisitions of such assets subject to these fundamentals, they are yet to come into the corpus of law and practice in Sierra Leone. So far, the government has failed to disclose details of negotiations and licenses for public scrutiny and this non-disclosure is raising concern in the public.
- Government in 2010 hastily passed the Petroleum Production and Exploration Act without allowing due diligence by the citizenry. There are concerns about the non-transparent nature of granting exploration licences, misuse of licence fees and other funds paid to the Petroleum Resources Unit. Unsurprisingly, the new Petroleum Act gives inordinate powers to the President and there is no Ministry dealing with oil issues.
- Against this backdrop, a ‘new direction’ administration will work with partners to have:
- Case-by-case review and possibly re-negotiation of all Mining and Petroleum Agreements based on international best practice and existing mining and fiscal legislation;
- A fiscal regime that creates stability and credibility in the mining and petroleum sectors;
- Conduct a natural resource audit to determine what we have, where they are and in what quantity and establish and sustain a natural resource database.
- Set up and operate the new National Minerals Agency in line with the new Act; and
- Train high level professionals and develop capacities in mineral negotiation and management.
Our country is resource-rich but policy-poor. We have a vast sore running through the population. Nearly six million people stuck in desperate conditions of grinding poverty amidst the growing affluence of a few. Lifting them from those conditions is the struggle we must wage, and it is a struggle we must win. Thus far, the management of our economy has been less than impressive.
Annual economic growth which averaged about 6.5% between 2002 and 2007 dropped to 5.5% in 2008 and averaged 4.7% between 2008 and 2011. Growth has been largely backed by new investments in mining.
The expansionary fiscal policy as a result of unplanned spending on urban roads and electricity, coupled with falling domestic revenue, has considerably widened the fiscal gap and is a major
source of inflation which stood at 21% in July 2011. The exchange rate has also escalated by 43% from Le3, 000 in 2007 to Le4, 300 to one US dollar in 2012. Public spending is expected to rise even further as desperation within the ruling Party for the re-election of the incumbent President reaches fever pitch.
The global financial crisis created immunity for no country. And in Sierra Leone, the poor received no protection from the ravages of the crisis. As a result, living standards dropped drastically. Compounding this problem, the Government completely failed to put in place any medium-term strategy that would have increased domestic production and reduce food prices. The effect of all this is that today the conditions in Sierra Leone are so excruciating that many a poor family cannot even afford a meal a day.
A Maada Bio administration shall manage the economy in a New Direction. To this end, the regime shall put an economic team together that will think outside the box, craft new policies in line with the philosophy of the New Direction without jeopardizing the ongoing arrangements with our donor partners. The overall objectives of our economic management shall be :
- to have a stable and competitive national currency that will promote exports;
- to reduce public sector deficits through increased revenue as a consequence of
- enhanced revenue administration and expansion of revenue base as well as better
- management of public finances;
- to reduce inflation and create conditions for essential goods to be available and affordable;
- to create jobs, particularly for our youth through boom in private sector activities;
- to increase domestic production of essential goods, particularly food;
- to expand and improve efficiency in public spending on social services;
- to develop public infrastructure with high economic and social benefits.
Private Sector Investment
We see our future as one of collaboration with our development partners. We shall design systematic, co-ordinated and coherent policies and programmes that make our own development commitments more credible to investors and to our own people. This way we hope to increase private sector investment in our economy.
In the New Direction, our focus on the Private Sector will be the following:
- Strengthening and enforcing the existing legal and regulatory framework;
- Building capacities and providing financial and technical support to local entrepreneurs (particularly women and youth);
- Attracting credible foreign investment, particularly in job- creating sectors;
- Improving on infrastructure;
- Extending domestic and foreign investment into disadvantaged areas;
Human Capital Development
Development is about people and by the people. Development in a ‘New Direction’ will start with developing the human capital. This will require investing in education, training and health care.
Investing in quality education - primary, secondary, technical colleges and universities - will help turn Sierra Leone's natural and mineral resources into sustainable development. It would help
lift people out of poverty and help create vast new opportunities. It would also help to reduce unfair income distribution and sustain democracy and peace.
Only two out of every five Sierra Leoneans can read or write. Primary school enrolments are low, the quality of education at all levels has dropped and there are few qualified teachers/lecturers at all levels. Access to technical education is restricted and the curricula are
not often related to the job market in many cases. In the New Direction, the focus of our educational development will be the following:
- Establishing adult and functional literacy programmes in all chiefdoms and urban towns;
- Increasing access and affordability to pre-primary, primary, secondary, technical/vocational and tertiary levels of education;
- Free girl child education at various levels;
- Massive investment in technical/vocational education;
- Improving quality of education at all levels through improvement in educational infrastructure and conditions of service;
Developing Sierra Leone also requires a healthy population. The health care system is weak and requires huge investment and institutional reforms to enable the citizen to get easy access.
The present health care situation in the country is characterized by high morbidity and mortality, particularly among infants, under-fives and pregnant women; high incidence of malaria and other diseases; poor management; and manpower constraints.
A ‘new direction’ administration will strengthen the health care delivery system and make it accessible to the vast majority of our people. In particular, a Bio ‘new direction’ administration will:
- Continue with the Free Health Care Initiative and expand it to include all school-going children, the mentally and physically challenged and vulnerable persons;
- Establish a Child Health Fund to be financed by a percentage of all taxes paid by mining companies;
- Introduce innovative health care financing schemes such as insurance schemes and community-based financing;
- Expand and intensify preventive health care;
- Equip all district hospitals with modern facilities for accurate diagnosis and cure;
- Consult with the General Medical Council of Sierra Leone about introducing a compulsory national service scheme for new doctors and other medical graduates; and
- Introduce public-private partnership in health care management.
Sierra Leone is largely an agrarian economy with agriculture employing over 60% of the population and contributing about 43% of the Gross Domestic Product. The fact that about 60% of our population is engaged in agriculture, we cultivate barely 10% of arable land and we do not produce enough to feed ourselves is an indictment of efforts of successive governments. Food self sufficiency is barely 38%.
Among others, the following characterize the Sierra Leonean agricultural sector:
- Low food production and farmers productivity
- Low domestic and foreign investment in the sector.
- Limited access to agricultural technology and extension facilities
- Poor infrastructure for processing and marketing
The aim of our agricultural policy under ‘a new direction’ will be to increase income and productivity of farmers, provide jobs, provide food and increase export of agricultural products. The core strategy will include:
- Instituting policies and enacting laws to encourage local investment in agriculture. Such policies will include making it a requirement for persons seeking public and political office
- Institute policies and programmes that will attract foreign private sector investment in the agricultural sector.
- Increasing access to agricultural technology and extension services
- Capitalize the ongoing tractorisation programme and introduce public-private partnership in tractor management.
- Develop rural infrastructure for processing and marketing of farm products
Fighting Corruption and Improving Accountability
Indiscipline in public offices continues to be the cankerworm of our national development. Graft and abuse of office in the public service remain serious problems. They dilute the rule of law, undermine national development, and entrench mass poverty. Accordingly, the SLPP Government set up, for the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and enacted the relevant laws to combat corruption. In 2008, the ACC Act was revised. The revised Act gave the power to the ACC to prosecute. But experience has shown that much more needs to be done to make the ACC more efficient and effective in preventing and combating corruption. The legislation will therefore be reviewed to enable the Commission to live up to public expectation. The internal procedures of the Commission will also be reviewed to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the discharge of its duties.
Accountability has usually been viewed in terms of fiduciary responsibility. Accounting in terms of results has been less emphasized. Currently, there is no system-wide and modern approach to the accounting for results. Against this background, my administration revitalize a system for planning, monitoring and reporting on Development Results referred to as Results-Based Management (RBM) that was initiated by the last SLPP administration. The development targets will be set at the start of each year and senior managers will be accountable for delivering on these results.
A Bio administration will also be mindful of the necessity for improved social accountability. We will improve on mechanisms that will promote downwards accountability in which public officials and non-state actors will give account of stewardship by intensification of the outreach and content of mechanisms such as Public Expenditure and Tracking Survey (PETS), District Budget Oversight (DBO) by citizens; regular audit of public finances and dissemination of findings and recommendations as well as strengthening network with civil society institutions working on issues of social accountability.
Respecting Human Rights and Upholding the Rule of Law
Since 2007, respect for human rights in Sierra Leone has taken a nose-dive. Intimidation of committed Opposition members, cross-carpeting by less committed Opposition members, and illegal vote buying by the ruling Party have been some of the tactics deployed by the ruling Party
against the Opposition. As all this is happening, the other branches of government have been noticeably mute. They are rapidly losing the confidence of the public who increasingly perceive
them as pliant takers of directives from above, meaning the Executive branch. Our Party is not afraid of justice but we are afraid of partial justice.
Abuse of citizens’ rights has also been widespread. Severe forms of abuse are unfair dismissals, unequal access to opportunities, brutal actions by State Police, and unfair trials in the Courts. Bail conditions, especially for accused opposition members, often demanded by the Prosecution, have grown stiffer and stiffer and are seldom compatible with the tenets of democratic governance. Judging by the torrent of concerns from the public about the performance of the Police and the Judiciary, we know a mountain of pressing reforms awaits a future Maada Bio administration to bring those institutions in line with international standards and best practice.
On April 26, 2007, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) delivered an historic verdict. The Court found Charles Ghankay Taylor, former President of Liberia, guilty on all counts in an 11-count indictment with aiding and abetting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) in Sierra Leone for various war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law against our people during the 11- year long internecine civil war.
This verdict by the Special Court for Sierra Leone has great significance for all countries in the world. It tells all serving Heads of State who commit international crimes against their subjects or their neighbours that there is no hiding place for them anywhere anymore. Impunity in all its manifestations in state governance has been outlawed by international criminal law and shall no longer be tolerated no matter how high or low a government official may be.
This is news that is greatly welcomed by all the peoples of the world. Quite apart from this, the Court's judgment has other far-reaching implications. Disappointingly, the current APC Government in Sierra Leone completely ignored this in their acknowledgement of the Court’s decision. The decision has one other major implication for the people of Sierra Leone, more
specifically, the huge numbers of victims of the RUF/AFRC atrocities. The decision offers a new window of opportunity to pursue a claim for reparations in the International Court of Justice at
The Hague on behalf not only of Sierra Leone as a State but of all the victims of the war. These victims, mostly poor and destitute, number hundreds of thousands. They are found in every
corner of the country and are still languishing to this day with no food or shelter and no-one to care for them.
A future ‘New Direction’ government shall make a claim of reparations on behalf of these miserable families against the delinquent states that assisted the rebellion of the RUF a matterof high priority.
Women constituting 51% of our population continue to be the most disadvantaged group in our society. They are economically weak and politically voiceless. As a nation, preparing to move in a New Direction, it is imperative that our administration empowers our women economically and gives them voice to advocate for themselves and participate in decision-making processes.
Under a new direction we shall embark on the following:
- Free education for female students/trainees at all levels.
- Establishing a Special Gender Empowerment Fund to provide capacity building and financial support to female entrepreneurs and increasing their participation in the private sector.
- Establishing and strengthening institutions for implementation of the enacted Gender Bills
- Reforming the local laws with a view to increasing the participation of women in local politics
- Developing the capacity of and providing financial support to women engaged in agriculture
Building and maintaining our infrastructure
The lack of supply of electricity, water, roads and telecommunications is a considerable impediment to future development and investment in the country. The limited existing infrastructure poses a serious constraint to attracting investment. Although public spending on infrastructure has increased considerably since 2007, there are concerns about the transparency of contracts funded from internally generated revenue.
The operation and management of the various sub-sectors in the infrastructure sector continue to be fraught with difficulties. The various reform projects, conceived by the previous government are being poorly implemented because of political meddling. The incessant problems between the National Commission for Privatisation (NCP) and various line Ministries are worrisome. The Commission which has the mandate to serve as a prudent shareholder and to manage and prepare all public enterprises for divestiture and delivery of efficient services is at daggers drawn with line Ministries for control of the various Boards and hence management of these enterprises and the reform processes in many instances have either been short circuited or stalled altogether. The resultant effect has been seen in the generally poor performance of the infrastructure sectors.
The commitment of major budgetary funds to this sector has been at the expense of other sectors, especially the social sectors which have been starved of support, thus exacerbating the poverty situation. The inordinate amount of funds spent on infrastructure has not been reflected in the social and economic development of the country.
Electricity generation, estimated at under 40 megawatts (MW), falls drastically short of the estimated power requirements, which range from 300 MW to 500 MW for the country. Transmission poses a further challenge since the 40 year old network can only bear 46 MW. There have been attempts through various projects to increase the transport capacity of electricity but the effort still falls far short of requirements. Under these capacity constraints, only 2% of households or 40,000 customers (mostly in or near Freetown) have access to electricity. Less than 1% of the rural population has access to electricity. 90% of the population has very low purchasing power and depends mainly on wood-fuel for cooking and kerosene for lighting. Approximately 70 % of power consumption in Sierra Leone is industrial or commercial, yet the lack and cost of electricity is one of the most frequently cited challenges facing investors. Typically, investors have chosen to operate their own generators rather than face frequent power interruptions.
Freetown has electricity as well as some areas along the transmission line from the Bumbuna dam which supplies most of the power required. Bo and Kenema have up to 6MW of electricity
from a hydro scheme during the rainy season, but the supply is inadequate during the dry season when thermal power is used. There are plans to resuscitate some of the other Provincial stations but these have been fraught with difficulties.
Existing energy supplies especially electricity are delivered at very high cost. There is a lack of adequate investment and insignificant private participation in rural energy development.
Government pays lip service to the reform of the power sector and has politicised the manning of the National Power Authority with adverse consequences for its operation. Furthermore, there has been no transparency in the operations and management contract for Bumbuna. Electricity costs are consequently very high. There is also concern that not enough attention is paid to provincial electricity supply.
The focus of my administration will be in the following areas:
- Reviewing and implementing the Energy Policy
- Developing mini dams to provide affordable electricity to the people
- Setting up regulatory Agency for electricity
- Developing renewable energy resources and addressing the problems of rural electrification.
- Improving management and accountability in the sub-sector
Water systems are overburdened and in need of modernization. In this regards, only 59 % of the population have access to safe drinking water and more than half of rural households use contaminated water. The Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) supplying water to Freetown, illustrates the need for 500,000, but the influx of people from rural areas, returning refugees and high population growth have result in a city of 1.5 to 2 million inhabitants. Deforestation has created further problems in the dam region by allowing mudslides, which fill in the dam lake and reduces the available supply.
Provincial water supply is under the purview of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO). Government has targeted water supply service provision in some district headquarter towns and the provision of rural water supply grants to Local Councils. Additionally, the World Bank is providing funding for rural water supply service delivery; other donors with pipeline projects for urban water supply services include JICA, AfDB, IDB, Government of Sierra Leone, etc
Water supply in Freetown is grossly inadequate and water quality poor in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, both GVWC and SALWACO have management problems leading to poor implementation of projects. The infrastructure for water supply is poorly maintained in urban areas, leading to high wastages.
As part of efforts to ensure sustainable supply of water, a new water and sanitation policy has been developed—the National Water and Sanitation Policy of December 2010, which was launched in January 2011.
The focus of a new direction will include:
- Reviewing and implementation of the water policy
- Restructuring of both GVWC and SALWACO
- Rehabilitating the water supplying pipes and reduce wastage
- Developing gravity water supply potentials in the Western Area and the provinces
- Rehabilitating pipe borne water facilities in all district headquarter towns
In spite of a few urban roads projects, there is a need for additional investment in this sector. The paved road network is very limited. Of the 11,300 km of roads only 8% is paved. In comparison, Ghana has 18%, Ethiopia 12% and Niger 25%. Unpaved rural, feeder roads are also in a serious state of disrepair and as such present a formidable barrier to the development
of the agriculture sector. Over the last several years, donor-funded projects have begun to improve and extend the paved roads in Sierra Leone.
There are various trunk roads being constructed with donor help across the country. This includes the Freetown Conakry highway and the Kenema Pendembu Road. A major road widening programme along Wilkinson Road and Spur Road is underway as is the construction of the Hillside bypass road. Feasibility studies and detailed engineering design have been completed for other roads like the Matotoka-Koidu road, the Bo-Bandajuma road and others. The construction of these will be funded by various donors.
Some of the concerns of these projects include:
- Poor and ad hoc planning: Feasibility studies are not thorough and thus there are instances of cost over runs putting pressures on limited budgetary resources
- Costs are inflated
- The designs are not holistic in the sense that they do not take into consideration future improvement of public utilities such as water and street lights;
- The roads selected in Freetown are not the most important compared to elsewhere in the city
- No compensation paid to property owners after demolition
The Roads Fund has been set up and proceeds have been used to pay for other priorities of government. Besides, Government waived contributions from petroleum companies in its effort to keep fuel prices low.
There are several ongoing donor funded feeder road programmes with government counterpart funding across the country, with the World Bank funded Rural and private Sector Development Programme covering all districts in the country with a total of 780km Feeder Road Component. Feeder roads are also being constructed through the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture.
A considerable amount of work still remains to be done on the development of feeder roads which will impact positively on the economy. The feeder roads projects are being implemented with no recourse to setting up effective management systems for their future sustainability. Management problems continue to have plagued the sector. There has been meddling by the Ministry of Works, Housing and Technical Maintenance into the operations of the SLRA. Undue meddling into the affairs of SLRA will ultimately lead to loss of independence and objectivity in the handling of the affairs of the Authority.
A future ‘New Direction’ administration will:
- Restructure the Sierra Leone Roads Authority
- Develop capacities in local Councils and devolved feeder roads rehabilitation and maintenance to these councils
- Review and develop a robust maintenance system of roads
- Manage the roads funds independently and transparently