How can Development Secretary tell lies about development?
The Development Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Mr. John Sumailah, is reported to have said 99% of road constructions in the country are undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone. His statement was reported by a reputable local tabloid though the headline of the story read 99% F/town Road Constructions Funded by Gov’t.
As much as Government is performing exemplarily well in road infrastructure across the country, it will be foolhardy to assert that Government is funding 99% of road constructions in the country. To start with, though we are potentially rich as a nation, it is sad to say that our penury-stricken country is donor-driven and most of our road projects are wholly or partly funded by our development partners. For example, the Freetown-Masiaka Highway, Masiaka-Bo Highway, Bo-Kenema Highway, Kenema-Pendembu Highway and many other highways were funded by our development partners either wholly or partly.
In fact, the main reason why the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is advising the Government of Sierra Leone to put certain donor funded projects on hold is because of the country’s huge external debts and its inability to pay back those debts. Since the generosity of the international community that cancelled our external debts in 2007, Sierra Leone has again become a highly indebted country externally. It is only out of craziness anyone would assert that 99.9% of all road projects in the
What I know for certain is that the road rehabilitation projects in Freetown, the three provincial headquarters and the twelve district headquarters in the country are directly funded by Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Even so, so contractors that pre-financed their contracts are finding it difficult getting back their monies from Government in time. The Government, for instance, still owes Jento Constriction Company over Le10 billion for the road construction works in Freetown and the embankment the company constructed at Government Wharf.
Despite the National Revenue Authority (NRA) is reported to be collecting over 60% of internal revenue for the Government of Sierra Leone, that revenue is not enough for highly capital intensive road projects except with the intervention of our development partners. For example, there is hardly any highway in the country that was not partly or wholly funded by our development partners.
By and large, John Sumailah deserves respect for being the country’s Development Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, but his statement that 99% of road constructions in the country are undertaken by the Government is far from truth. I would have concurred with him if he had claimed that 99.9% of all road rehabilitation in Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni and other district headquarters in the country is done by Government. I only hope Mr. Development Secretary will rectify his unfortunate statement provided he was not misquoted by the local tabloid.
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