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Inflation now at 0.34%?

Inflation now at 0.34%?

It must be the biggest joke of this new year and it is not even APRIL!. Is somebody being funny when the poor people of this country are suffering from the effects of bad governance and mismanagement? As General Charles de Gaulle remarked when an assassin’s bullet missed his nose by only a few inches, “If it was meant to be a joke then it is in bad taste.” But this is not hearsay, nor is it “from the grapevine,” but rather straight “from the horse’s mouth.” The authoritative newspaper on the APC government affairs carried a bold front page headline in its Tuesday March 8 edition, “INFLATION NOW AT O.34%.” Then continuing the story on page ten, readers were told the stark truth as published by Statistics Sierra Leone. The treble digit inflation which was 157% in December 2010  had increased by 0.34% in January 2011. For all that we know the figure may well be higher by the time of our 50th Independence anniversary. This is in complete contrast to the government’s much earlier statement that it would bring the rate down from its unacceptable level of two digits to a single digit figure and the I B M Kamaras, the One drop Sankohs and the Sheik Seseys were all screaming hallelujah to the country’s saviour.  (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)

But we saw it coming and refused to be silenced. Readers may recall that some three months or so ago in this very column I reminded all, of the years 1978 to 1980 when we went on a spending spree for the OAU, which event left us completely bankrupt and our free fall to poverty commenced. I compared that to the almost reckless way in which this government was spending money and warned that we may be heading for out-of-control inflation and a free fall in the value of our Leone. Instead of others echoing that sentiment, especially people like Olu Ritchie Gordon who had witnessed it all before, he went on to ridicule my suggestions. He almost derided me as if I was against or envious of the government’s infrastructural strides. But these people forget that one can only spend what one has and anything outside that is pure economic madness. I remember the first time I entered the Parliament building; the House was at the concluding stage of the budget which the then SLPP Finance Minister R G O King had presented. Siaka Stevens the APC opposition Leader had just pointed out and correctly too that the minister’s budget was inflationary. In reply, much to my amusement Mr. King had compared the whole system to a football. He said that if one wanted it to expand, one had to inflate it. “There can be no expansion without inflation.” he concluded. Here is this government, rather than gradually completing the road projects that we had begun like Bo to Masiaka and the Peninsular roads, for which funding had already been secured by the erstwhile SLPP government, including the hillside and the Lumley to Tokeh roads, has been over anxious to demonstrate how it had assured the electorate of its development plans, has embarked on the Congo cross to Lumley road which is making progress and was going to plunge the travel plans in the west of the city into chaos by simultaneously beginning work on Spur road. Now I am informed that reasoning has prevailed and the Spur road project, useful as it is must wait until funds are generated. What is so wrong with that practice of the inevitability of gradualness? Ah, but that won’t score a point over the SLPP; the country was to be plunged into bank borrowing with the resultant inflation. I shall refrain from any mention of the Income electric or the D and S generator contracts. I am still amazed that my nephew does not, or rather, that my nephew ignores my UNSOLICITED ADVICE on such matters.

Everone is going decimal, but I am occasionally filled with nostalgia when I recall the old imperial measurements, which now appear complicated but which we mastered all the same in those days. Take the multiplication tables on the back covers of our exercise books, 12 inches make one foot, three feet make one yard, 36 inches make one yard, 22 yards make one furlon, 12 furlon make one chain. I wonder how Dr. Roger Banister is described these days, the first man to run the mile under FOUR minutes. I had made a mental note of all the mile posts on the way to Bo. There was the one just before mile 47, now today’s Masiaka. There was post 66 in that dangerous curve before getting to Mabole. Mathoi lay between mile 75 and mile 76, and Ro Kimbe is at mile 79. What do we do with Mile 91 now that we have decimals?

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