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Edmond Koroma, Samura Kamara taking the credit

Edmond Koroma, Samura Kamara taking the credit

As a nation, Sierra Leone has continued to move from the ravages of a civil war that lasted for over a decade, to a country that is fast becoming a beacon of democracy and good governance; a country in the developing world that is exemplary adhering to the tenets of the Rule of Law. (Photo: Pa John Baimba Sesay)

Sierra Leone’s civil war

The outside world saw the war between 1991 and 2001 in Sierra Leone as a ‘civil war’; we within Sierra Leone know better.  We know that it was not a civil war; rather, it was a ‘rebel war’ – a war that was waged by rebel combatants who were largely sponsored by foreign forces. Even in the heat of this ‘rebel war’, our country never degenerated to that tribal warfare that typified the war in Liberia, or the Baifra-Nigeria war, on the Rwanda or Congolese wars. As a people in Sierra Leone, we have relatively been one of the most tolerant in the world.

Nonetheless, the ‘rebel war’ was devastating. The scorch-earth tactics of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels meant complete devastation of too many of the economic infrastructure of the country, a ruination of most of the economically productive lands of our beloved Motherland, Sierra Leone.  It has been an uphill task, economically, climbing out of this economic abyss, which was worsened by flight of too many of our people into refugee camps in neighboring countries, and, for the very learned, flight into Europe and America as refugees.

“Confronting the Future”

This rebel war worsened the economic doldrums that Sierra Leone found itself in the 1980s, and dimmed our once bright image as one of the fastest developing countries in the 1970s Fortunately, with a new government having been democratically elected in 2007, a new dynamic youthful leadership empowered by the people, there is now dramatic surge forward on almost all fronts of governance.

On the 4th of this month, I was in Parliament to witness the statement of economic and financial policies of this government for the 2010 financial year, which was delivered by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Samura Kamara. The theme of the statement is: “Confronting the Future”. It is timely; and apt. Sierra Leoneans must confront the emerging future with much confidence.

The finance minister in the 2010 Budget spoke of promoting ‘sustained high economic growth, while consolidating macroeconomic stability’. The budget itself ensures provision of a significant shift from recurrent to capital spending and also at the same time, reflects government’s focus on “investing on our future… .” Edmond Koroma, who happens to be the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, the Minister in charge of that ministry, Samura Kamara, and other staff at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, should take credit for coming out with such a thoughtful budget.

Edmond Koroma, Financial Secretary, Finance Ministry

Edmond Koroma, Financial Secretary, Finance Ministry

I have specifically turned the spotlight on Dr. Samura Kamara and Edmond Koroma for obvious reasons; they have always taken the lead in pushing matters of economic recovery, under the last couple of months, especially following the recent global recession. And it would be right to therefore commend them for having working assiduously in getting us a budget as the one read in Parliament last week.

Government’s 2010 budget

The 2010 budget, as also stated by the Minister of Finance, ‘is premised on the need to urgently overcome the socio-economic challenges that we face in the short to medium term. These include the need to deepen and broaden the agenda for inclusive development and to ensure that no individual, community or region is denied the opportunity to participate and benefit from the development process…’

The words “inclusive development” has to be put under the floodlight; especially within the context of a feeling of “exclusion” by some sections of the country, and the political capital that has been made out of this by some opposition political parties. I am of the view that development is a process that needs the support of all and sundry. Until we see it that way, we shall, as a people never come to terms with the strides our political leadership has been undertaken to push this country forward.

We have witnessed the global meltdown, but it was and is still encouraging that we have been able to withstand such a challenge as a nation. There has not been any double digit inflation in our country because of the global economic crises, though we as a country are dependent on foreign imports to raise revenues, though we are still dependent on foreign donors for about 40% of funds needed for operations of our government.

Edmond/Samura, finance wizards

The finance ministry and other finance managers of our government have ensured that salaries are being paid on time; there have been no convulsions in our banks; imports have been coming regularly. We must praise finance guys like Dr. Samura and Edmond Koroma who have guided the finance ship through one of the most tumultuous seas the world has ever had to sail through.  It is not a boast, just a statement of fact when during the Budget speech the Minister of Finance said, in spite of the adverse impact of the global financial and economic crisis on our economy, we were still able to make continued progress in ‘maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment with positive growth’.

The finance minister can only make such a statement because of the able support he has received from finance wizards in the finance ministry like Edmund Koroma.  Dr. Samura Kamara himself, who was a Financial Secretary not too long ago, knows the pivotal role a Financial Secretary has to play in the finance ministry, and I am sure he is apparently appreciative of the valiant finance role of Edmond Koroma. Needless to say, whatever policies or strategies which are worked out in the finance ministry, it would come to naught if the National Revenue Authority does not collect enough revenues to finance government expenditure. But definitely, the NRA shall collect the needed revenue.

Irrespective of what one may think of Edmond Koroma and Samura Kamara, the fact is they have continued to work in the direction of President Koroma’s Agenda for Change, and they are well place and set to meet the challenges of the tome. They indeed should take the credit for the positive signs we are seeing.

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For those who know a little of the history of Sierra Leone it has always seemed that the country was one of the strongest players in the region. Unfortunately, in the 1990s, the country suffered a bloody rebel war, now although the future of Sierra Leone’s economy is still unclear the situation looks better all the time. You don’t have to work for a bank or a company like Fool.co.uk to gain a better understanding of the country’s economy. The above article should shed some light on the improvements in the situation.

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