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Archive for March, 2012

Sierra Leone ‘s progress under President Koroma’s Agenda For Change as told by Finance Minister Samura Kamara

Monday, March 12th, 2012

presidentkoroma

Government has made significant progress in the implementation of the AGENDA for CHANGE during 2008 to 2010. The programmes and projects implemented under each of the strategic priorities of the AGENDA for CHANGE are detailed below:

 


Energy

Government recognised that access to reliable and affordable energy supply on a sustainable basis promotes economic development and has therefore prioritized the improvement of electricity supply throughout the country.
The Bumbuna Hydroelectric Dam was completed and commissioned in late 2009 and this has improved the supply of electricity in Freetown. With assistance from the Japanse International Cooperation (JICA), a 10MW thermal plant was also installed at the Kingtom Power Station in 2010 to augment electricity supply to the Western Area. With Support from the Arab bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), two thermal plants of 8.25 MW at the Black hall Road Power station to supplement power from Bumbuna especially during the dry season. In the provinces, the Bo-Kenema thermal plants are being overhauled while the Dodo Hydro dam is expanded to increase the supply of electricity.
However, the adequacy and reliability of electricity supply continues to be hampered by a fragile Transmission and Distribution (T&D) network which is over 40 years old. To improve on the T&D network, Government has provided substantial funds to replace the old network. The installation of 33kV lines in Freetown and the Western Area and is expected to increase the transport capacity of the T&D network from the current 30MW to about 45MW by the end of 2011. Government is also pursuing programmes to increase the supply of electricity in the rural areas through the use of solar technology. To this end, Government piloted a Solar Electrification Programme with support from the BarefootCollege in India.

 

Roads

The important role of a good road network in supporting other economic activities as well as the delivery of basic services cannot be over-emphasized. In this regard, Government embarked on a major road construction programme to link different parts of the country and facilitate the movement of people and goods. The construction/reconstruction of major highways (e.g. Masiaka-Bo, Bo-Kenema, and Makeni-Matotoka Highway) have been completed, and the construction of the Rogberay-Pamlap Highway and other roads (Tokeh- Lumley, the Hill-Side Bye Pass Road, widening of the Wilkinson Road and the rehabilitation of streets in Freetown and the provincial headquarter towns) are in progress. In addition, about 555km of feeder roads were completed in 2010 and work on other feeder roads are nearing completion.

 

Agriculture

To promote agricultural development, Government developed a National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (NSADP, 2010-2030) within the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2009. With support from development partners, Government introduced the Smallholder Commercialisation Scheme (SCS) within the framework of the NSADP to ensure the effective provision of services to all farmers nation-wide. As most of the poor are farmers, mainly engaged in small farming operations, it was critical that Government singled out this programme within the agricultural sector. The SCS has brought together 10,000 farmers, who were provided with packages of subsidised inputs, machinery and training. Also, 150 Agricultural Business Centres (ABCs) are being constructed across the country. An agricultural machinery and equipment hire purchase scheme was launched in 2010 to promote agricultural commercialization through mechanization. The 265 tractors and other agricultural machinery were acquired under a Line of Credit from the Government of India. These tractors have been deployed throughout the country.

 

Education

Government realised the importance of increasing attendance in schools but further recognises the importance of retaining these students in the long run. As a result, government formulated the National School Feeding Programme to supplement the WFP School Feeding Programme already in existence with the aim to increase attendance rate, retention and minimise child stunting which is very endemic in Sierra Leone. Government, with assistance from development partners provided in-service training for teachers as well as developing a code of conduct for teachers to improve ethical standards in the educational system. Government through the SABABU project supplied 1,000,000 sets of textbooks to primary schools and 100,000 to secondary schools. An Educational Management Information System (EMIS) has also been installed in the MEST.

 

Health

Government’s health policy objective was to improve the health of the population, especially mothers and children, through strengthening national health systems. A key priority on the Government’s development agenda for 2010 was the implementation of the Free Healthcare Initiative. To ensure this, Government provided additional resources towards improving the conditions of service of medical staff, procurement of drugs and equipment, and strengthening sector supervision. Essential drugs have been provided to each district for the implementation of the Free Health Care Policy. To improve the quality of health care in health delivery facilities, Government also procured medical equipment for the 6 referral hospitals in the country.
Government also undertook a nationwide distribution of 3 million treated bed nets in December 2010 to control the spread of malaria. Furthermore, Government in its efforts to increase the number of peripheral health facilities with at least two health personnel, additional 1,000 healthcare staff were recruited.

 

Structural Reforms:
Public Financial Management

Government continues to implement public financial management reforms under the multi-donor funded Integrated Public Financial management Reforms project (IPFMRP), which seeks to consolidate and deepen reforms undertaken in earlier years.A comprehensive review of the National Public Procurement Act (2004) and Government Budgeting and Accountability Act(2005) and their respective supporting regulations is being undertaken. Government has adopted a comprehensive debt management law in 2011.
Efforts continue to be made to strengthen the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) by enhancing the planning, monitoring and evaluation process for capital projects. To this end, Government amended the GBAA (2005) in support of an appropriate framework. Going forward, Government will fully integrate three-year public investment plan with the budget process. To further strengthen the budget planning process, an IMF style Financial Programming and Policies model (the Sierra Leone Integrated Macroeconomic Model-SLIMM) has been developed. The model is now used to produce consistent and robust medium-term macro-fiscal forecasts which feed into the budget planning process.

Following the enactment of the National Public Procurement Act in 2004, significant progress has been made in improving the public procurement process. Good quality procurement plans are now prepared by MDAs and the volume and value of public procurements that go through competitive process is also increasing steadily. A cadre of procurement professionals has been established in the civil service and procurement specialist have been recruited and deployed in key MDAs.
Progress continues to be made in strengthening the internal audit function across Government. In 2010, Government recruited 51 internal audit personnel including a Deputy Director, Principal Auditors and Senior Auditors. These were deployed in key MDAs. As a result, the number of MDAs with fully functional internal audit units has been increased from 8 in 2009 to 31 in 2010. Internal audit committees have also been established and are meeting regularly to follow up on audit recommendations.
With regards to external audit, the Auditor-General’s report on 2009 Public Accounts has been laid in Parliament. The audit of the 2010 Annual Public Accounts is in progress. Government continues to implement Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS) to ascertain the proportion of disbursed public resources that reach the intended beneficiaries. The 2010 PETS covering selected 2009 and 2010 poverty-related expenditures was implemented in September 2010. A draft report on the findings was produced in May2011.
The roll-out of the Integrated Public Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) continues. The IFMIS has now been rolled out to 11 MDAs to foster commitment control and the processing of public financial transactions. Plans are at an advanced stage for the roll-out of IFMIS to additional 6 MDAs. MOFED continues to provide training and support to IFMIS users across MDAs. To improve financial management in the local councils, the PETRA Accounting package-a financial management information system has been rolled out to 8 local councils. Plans are underway to roll-out to three additional local councils.

 

Private Sector Development

Government recognises that the private sector constitutes the main engine for economic growth and development, noting that only about 20 percent of national businesses is in the hands of the state, the rest, though operated mostly informally, are in the hands of the private sector. Thus, within the framework of the national poverty reduction strategies, Government has been implementing reforms to improve the investment climate.
These include removing the administrative barriers to investment, strengthening and modernizing the legal and regulatory framework for business development. A private sector development strategy has been developed. A comprehensive Investment Incentives Policy was also approved in 2009. In 2010, a National Trade Policy was developed and launched, including initiating the process for the development of an industrial policy. More recently, Public–Partnership Policy (PPP) framework was put together and a draft PPP law has been enacted by Parliament and is awaiting Presidential accent.


Anti-Corruption Efforts

As part of its effort to improve governance and fight corruption, Government established the Anti-Corruption commission (ACC) following the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act in 2000. The ACC recorded some successes during 2005-07 but was constrained by its inability to prosecute corrupt cases, without reference to the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

 

The Anti-Corruption Act 2000 was therefore repealed and replaced with the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The new 2008 ACC Act gave prosecutorial powers to the Anti-Corruption Commission. The amendments to the 2000 Act include creating new offences such as illicit enrichment, abuse of office and misuse of office; providing adequate protection for whistleblowers and informers; making it compulsory for all public servants to declare their assets and make adequate provision for international cooperation in the fight against corruption. The amendments have ensured that the national legislation is in tandem with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which Sierra Leone has ratified, and the African Union Convention on preventing and Combating Corruption, which Sierra Leone will soon ratify. Government also revised, adopted the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2008-13). In 2010, the ACC handled 117 cases, eight (8) of which led to convictions, including two Government Ministers.


Note: Dr Samura Kamara is the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. The above article was extracted from his Letter of Development Policy dated 8 June, 2011 and addressed to Dr. Donald Keberuka, President of the African Development Bank in Tunisia.

 

Another Big Blow To SLPP : Strongman Tom Nyuma Joins APC

Sunday, March 11th, 2012
COCORIOKO  has confirmed the story the Publisher of Awareness Times , Dr. Sylvia Blyden, broke at Facebook this evening  that the former military strongman, Tom Nyuma, has quit the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP ) and declared for the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) .  Col. Nyuma’s defection is a huge blow to the SLPP and the party’s hope of sweeping its stronghold , Kailahun, has just been jettisoned because Nyuma commands tremendous clout in the district, a fact that no serious SLPP  member will dispute.
TOM NYUMA
The defection will also send a strong  message that with Maada Bio as its presidential flagbearer, the centre of the SLPP will never hold , whatever the violence they plan to unleash ,  given the fact that  if anybody should defect while Maada Bio is the Presidential candidate of the SLPP, it should not  have been  Tom Nyuma, considering the strong bond that once existed between Nyuma and Bio as both were among the soldiers who staged the 1992 military coup and served in the junta that later handed over power to the SLPP in 1996 after rigged Presidential Elections. This is a clear demonstration of Maada Bio’s inability to attract people to himself and the SLPP. Bio repels people, a fact that the SLPP will continue denying to their doom in the November elections. If Bio can lose Nyuma at this crucial period when he is vying for the presidency, it is clear that he is not being taken seriously and also he does not enjoy goodwill within his own party.
The Nyuma defection may be the vital breakthrough the APC needs to upend the SLPP in their stronghold. With Nyuma on their side, the APC  can now make an effective case to the people of Kailahun that the SLPP does not have any appeal, given their lack of development objectives and the best place to be is the APC.
The sources who confirmed the story to us told us that the Tom Nyuma defection was indeed  a very big shock to the SLPP. It has sent ripples within the party.  The Chairman of the SLPP , Mr. John Benjamin, is stunned but is trying to soften the blow by assuring concerned partisans that the SLPP is able to surmount such obstacles.
OUR MEN ON THE GROUND IN FREETOWN ARE AFTER THE STORY AND WILL BRING YOU MORE TOMORROW

Alex Mansaray reminiscences APC fight to return to power

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Alex  Mansaray

Charismatic politician, Mr. Alex Mansaray, one of the few men of guts who sacrificed everything under the most daunting odds to form the All People’s Congress (APC) North America Branch at a time when  many people did not want to even hear about the party, arrived in the United States last weekend to spend some time with his family . Mr.Mansaray , who lives in Sierra Leone where he is a lucrative businessman, has also undergone his regular physical examination and has been given a clean bill of health by his doctors.

Mr. Mansaray ,who is also one of the administrators of your popular COCORIOKO  newspaper, was in bouyant and excited mood when this newspaper caught up with him this afternoon, at Somerset, New Jersey. He was in very high spirits and said he was delighted that after he and a few veterans of the APC established the party’s North American Branch, other stalwarts had taken over the running of the branch and were doing well to concretize the party’s presence in the Continental United States. He said though he did not know many of the  members now running the branch he was gratified to know that they were going on with the work of the branch. He advised the members to continue to pull together and eschew all forms of disunity . He said that the detractors of the party were outside the branch and members should concentrate their efforts in defeating them .”When we were there, our fight was with outsiders”, he went on. He commended officials dedicated to the ideals of promoting peace in the branch. He thanked the Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations, Hon. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, along with Messrs Ajibu Tejan-Jalloh and Bangalie Sesay for their weekend peace initiatives within the party . He said that was the spirit expected of the party members by the APC leadership  and President Ernest Bai Koroma in Freetown.

Mr. Mansaray recalled the formative years of the APC-NA when he ,  Messrs Alimamy Kargbo , Raymond Kabia and few others decided to establish the branch in America.  ”At that time, the coup had taken place in Sierra Leone in 1992 and the NPRC Military junta had muddied the name of the party. Because of the propaganda mounted against the APC  by its enemies, including the SLPP,  many people did not even want to hear the name APC. We had a very difficult time establishing the branch .People kept telling us that we were fighting a losing battle because we will not get members. Some of our people had left us and joined the SLPP. But we decided that nothing on this earth will force us to abandon the party and join the SLPP ” , he explained.

Alex Mansaray further stated that he and the others fought hard and were finally able to establish a branch of the APC in the United States. He spoke about dauntless efforts made by detractors of the APC to discourage them but they continued to work hard until they had a breakthrough. He stated that during their time they did not receive support here because nobody was certain that the APC will ever return to limelight. “However, despite all the problems we encountered we continued to hope for the best. We continued fighting hard and we respected authority and those holding responsible positions in society . The only way  to succeed in politics is to listen to the advice of the wise men and wise women of the party .You can never succeed if you do not respect authority or listen to the wisdom of the wise ones “, he asserted.

Mr .Mansaray also advised that the first thing a member who wants to do well should do is to study the laws and the bylaws in the constitution of the party , which provide guidance about the way to conduct oneself and  organize the branch and chapters efficiently and competently. Problems, he postulated , come when the laws and bylaws are not being respected.

PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA

About 2012, Mr. Mansaray predicted a landslide victory for President Ernest Bai Koroma. He said that the President has performed above expectation and the people of Sierra Leone will express their gratitude by giving President Koroma his deserved second term. “In fact, this year, President Koroma declared that this is not the year of intent but implementation. This is the year of implementation of the many projects undertaken by government since it came to power ” ,Mansaray continued .He outlined the government’s achievements in restoring electricity and water supply , agriculture , education and infrastructural developments, especially roads. “And the amazing thing is that these developments are not concentrated in one area but spread throughout the country, even the remote areas “, he affirmed. He lauded the President for his efforts to unite the country. “Recently, we went all over the country with President Koroma to  present to the people in Pujehun, Kenema, Kono , Kailahun and Bo their sons and daughters who had been appointed as ministers in the government. ” President Koroma , he emphasized, is talking unity, not divisions. “We must all emulate him by promoting tolerance , understanding and unity. We are appealing to members of the branch to be patient with each other and to collaborate with Freetown and President Koroma .”‘

Hon. Alex Mansaray said he can recommend President Koroma to even be the first President of the United States of Africa because he had the ability to rule the whole continent.

 

About the 50th Independence Anniversary, Hon. Mansaray said he was inviting both Sierra Leoneans and foreign friends and well-wishers to travel to Sierra Leone and join them in the celebrations. “It will be one of the proudest moments of our country and I want to assure you that you will not regret it. The country is safe and we now have light, water , good roads and nice hotels.”

About the future of the country after 50 years of Independence, Mr. Mansaray said that he was confident that the future will be bright. “We have made mistakes during the first 50 years but I am confident that we have learnt our lessons and we will do our best to make the next 50 years more proftable. Though many of us will not be alive to celebrate the 100th Anniversary, our children and grandchildren who will be around will acknowledge that we did well for our country.” He called on all Sierra Leoneans not to underrate the potentials of their country. He said not everybody will receive government appointments and he advised members that they can still make a difference wherever they find themselves. “We must put the love of our party, government and country above our own ”

“We have a President who is ready to work hard and listen to people. We must cooperate with him and work hard and We will surely achieve our goals”, he concluded optimistically.