Running government like a business entity
On his assumption of office, his Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma declared that he would be running his government like a business. It is well known that business people or any entrepreneurs for that matter, are not in it for charity, let alone health reasons. They are Â in it for profit, the higher the margin of profit the better for them and their limited circle of investors. It is the same the world over. Profit and more profit, not for the masses but for the shareholders. When the international crisis broke out the ordinary man and woman was more affected than the big wheel dealers. For us in Sierra Leone as in many other developing countries, it was the escalating food and fuel prices that affected the man or woman on the street.
Our government allegedly being in sympathy with its people then contacted friendly countries, especially India which has never failed Sierra Leone for assistance with food aid. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation addressed an appeal letter to the Foreign Minister of India to sell rice AT CONCESSIONARY or PREFERENTIAL RATES ON HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS, TO THE INPOVERISHED PEOPLE OF Sierra Leone. Normally the donor country would make the necessary arrangements with its own agents for the supply of the commodity. In Sierra Leone as with Ghana, it was Â the Foreign Minister who selected the SUPPLIER, a DELHI-BASED PRIVATE COMPANY M/s Shivanath Rai Hanaraim India Ltd.Â Â The Letter of Credit or LC came from an international soft commodities trading company Noel Commodities with address at 1227 Carouge Switzerland. At the time the rice was selling at Rs.2 a kg. On March 31 2009, in another letter to her India counterpart Â our Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura stated, “We in Sierra Leone request that the concession for the 30,000 metric tons of rice be given toÂ M/s Amira Foods Ltd. Whom we have nominated as the shippers of the rice concession.” The government sought another consignment in May 2009 which was also to be handled by Amira Foods.
The India Outlook states that the priceÂ and the commercial termsÂ WERE FINALISED between the government and its nominated procurement agency who then used our own fat to fry us. Â There was no follow-up by the India Â government of the rest of the transactions with the private agency or whether all of the rice was shipped to Sierra Leone.Â Â Attached is a shipping document with details for Freetown but with the ship, mv MALAKAND having discharged Â its cargo Â IN DUBAI. At home Harmony Trading with a Sylvanus Koroma as Managing Director was given the agency without any tender. In addition to the concessionary price we know that Harmony received a huge duty waiver and yet sold the rice at only a little less than the prevailing market price. Â
Questions have been asked by the South India Rice Exporters Association, by the All India Rice Exporters Association etc. Another Exporter asked, “If the rice was for humanitarian aid, why didn’t the government (Indian) use FCI or the Shipping Corporation?” “How come that private Â entities were allowed to enter deals between the governments of India and Africa?” Â
So you see, our Â government is really being run like aÂ business concern, benefiting the few at the expense of the masses. There is a final twist to the rice saga suggesting that our government is an astute business entity. Â The owner of M/s Amira Foods and several other companies is non other than the MULTIMILLIONAIRE Mr. Amil Chanara whom our government’s had previously appointed as honorary Consul-General in India, ( not to be confused with the India Consul-General to Sierra Leone.) Mr. Chanara was in the country recently where it is alleged he bought diamonds to the value of one million United States dollars. We would have assumedÂ that Mr. Chanara had a Kimberley approved Diamond Exporters license, but then when he arrived in at Brussels airport there was a serious problem at the customs, one on which only our Foreign Affairs Ministry will dilate. But I am told it was embarrassing.
It can be seen that it is not John Benjamin who is President Koroma’s no.1 enemy, but all the hypocrites and bootlickers who pretend that nothing wrong is happening. It was the Rt. Honourable Edmond Burke, British statesman and Philosopher who, reflecting on the French Revolution wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men DO NOTHING!”
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