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IMF/World Bank Versus SLPP Charlatans:An Expose On Opposition’s Lack Of Patriotism
By Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito)
Oct 29, 2012, 12:08
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We have these very noisy neighbours who are hiding behind a democratic cloak to bring their own country down. They are the pa-o-pa charlatans in the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).Recently, our noisy friends have been chanting around town about a so-called report card of Sierra Leone’s current economic status published by an international organization going by the name of Global/World Economic Forum. It is one of the most ludicrous noises I have ever heard.


The SLPP propagandists are trying to debunk a statement that President Ernest Bai Koroma made during the recent closure of Parliament. On that day, President Koroma was just re-stating what already was in the public domain – the information that Sierra Leone is today one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and indeed the world.


The President said,

“Mr. Speaker, under our governance, our economy is today one of the fastest growing in the world. The IMF reports that our economy is growing by 32% this year; and the World Bank Global Prospects Report calls our economy the second hottest in the whole world…”


The President went on to say that,

“Although we inherited a difficult situation from the previous administration, we successfully put our economic programme on track and ensured approval of a successor programme, the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) in 2010. Our performance under this programme has been rated good; the first, second, third and fourth reviews have been successfully concluded by the Executive Board of the IMF. Indeed, on 17th September 2012, the very day I celebrated my fifth anniversary as President, the IMF applauded our management of the economy under the fourth review, and increased its support to Sierra Leone. Total external budget support increased from US$39.1 million in 2008 to US$ 50.3 million in 2011. Our budget support partners have committed to disburse US$53.0 million in 2012. Despite the global economic and financial crisis and the Euro Zone debt crisis, our astute policies and robust implementation of the Agenda for Change encouraged our development partners to disburse an annual average of $360 million exceeding their original commitment of $300 million.”


So, obviously, these are not statements that the President just conjured up or merely dreamt of. It is a piece of information that originated from, and was released by, arguably the most authoritative economic/financial organization in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has as its perpetual partner the similarly world-renown World Bank.


The IMF is made up of 188 countries and has personnel spread across the globe. Not only that; the top executives of the world body make their presence felt by themselves visiting member countries for periodic reviews. As things stand now, the world economy cannot do without the IMF. It is an institution that has credibility and authenticity as watchwords at the highest and widest levels. The IMF’s involvement in the assessment of national economies is as old as the modern world. The IMF thus is not new to Sierra Leone, just as it is not new to America and the rest of the world.


When the learned – and the learning -want to have authoritative sources on the economic indices of nations, they would not need to look further than the IMF and the World Bank. It is the IMF and the World Bank that would give the confidence to foreign investors to invest in a country; it is the IMF that the world’s leading economies like the USA and the UK look up to in terms of authentic information in any country’s economic prospects and potentials. And the IMF/World Bank do not only assess countries, they also put their money where their mouth is by pouring in resources for development.


It was the IMF/ World Bank that did a projection of Sierra Leone’s economic growth in 2012 by giving a not-below-30% approximation, after it had actually earlier rated it at 50% but downgraded after a fall in the demand and price of iron ore, a product that has entered into the Sierra Leonean modern lexicon for the huge discovery made and is now being tapped and exported by multi-million-dollar conglomerates like African Minerals and London Mining.


The news was broken in far-away New York on May 10 2012. In a report titled ‘Dolat Ventures Inc. announces: Sierra Leone Fastest Growing Sub-Saharan African Country According to IMF,’ with a sub heading ‘IMF Economic Report Projects Sierra Leone Growth at 36%,’ the online economics news outlet ‘Marketwire’ reported thus:


“NEW YORK, NY– (Marketwire – May 10, 2012) – Dolat Ventures Inc. (OTCBB: DOLV) announced today that the fastest growing economy will be Sierra Leone, projected to grow by 35.9% according to the yearly IMF World Economic Outlook Report published in April 2012…. Sierra Leone is a country at a crossroads. The country celebrates its 50th year, Sierra Leoneans are appropriately proud of their success with post-war reunification and reconstruction. Children are learning, infrastructure is expanding, and healthcare is improving. Sierra Leoneans hadn’t seen a functioning locomotive engine in 30 years until African Minerals (AMI) Ltd. rebuilt the rail network in November 2011, almost a decade after civil war ended...”


And then on October 4 2012 the IMF again issued a ‘Statement At The Conclusion Of An IMF Staff Mission To Sierra Leone’ (Press Release No. 12/381) categorically stating, among other things, that


“…Sierra Leone’s economic growth has strengthened in recent years, driven by expansion in agriculture, services and construction activities…The coming on stream of iron ore production in late 2011 is expected to boost growth and exports significantly in 2012 and beyond… The mission welcomed progress in the preparation of the authorities’ new poverty reduction and growth strategy, the Agenda for Prosperity, which outlines policies and reforms to address Sierra Leone’s developmental challenges…”


They have not only said these words, but the IMF and the World Bank have followed with deeds: and their assistance is seen everywhere – from the completion of Bumbuna Phase One to the landing of the first-ever fibre optic cable in Sierra Leone, to road construction, to marine resources, to budget support etc. etc. – having full confidence in the commitment of the current leadership of Sierra Leone in delivering services to its people.


But the SLPP charlatans would have none of this. For them, it is doom and gloom for Sierra Leone. Even though indeed there is clear evidence of Serra Leone’s transformation everywhere in terms of electricity supply, road and other infrastructure (including a major facelift to the international airport), free health care, improved agricultural productivity, large-scale investments like ADDAX, Gold Tree, First Step Economic Zone (exporting fruit concentrates labelled‘Made In Sierra Leone’ to Europe), an expanded Sierra Rutile, an improved Koidu Holdings, and SOFCIN, thereby providing tremendous employment opportunities, still the SLPP propagandists want to discredit the government’s strides by all means, by any means possible.


Then came in handy a well-orchestrated report by a name-dropping Global Economic Forum which, even for SLPP supporters, was the first time such a name was being mooted in their ears. And SLPP supporters take the voice of the angel they don’t know more seriously than that of the devil they’ve known all these years. Yes, the IMF/World Bank was once seen as the devil, especially during President Joseph Saidu Momoh’s regime when the Bretton Woods institutions insisted on a much-hated Structural Adjustment Programme which saw the mass retrenchment of workers in a bid to encourage private investment. It led to a lot of public disillusionment, and many blamed the IMF/World Bank for perhaps playing a contributory role in making the then APC government unpopular and an easy prey for the military boys that kicked President Momoh out of power.


But the IMF has come a long way. Sierra Leone also has come a long way. Today, we are again partners in development. As already mentioned, the current success story of Sierra Leone would virtually be impossible without the very supportive and friendly role of the IMF and the World Bank, consequently giving the cue to all other international financial & humanitarian institutions to have an interest in Sierra Leone.


Little wonder ADB, IDB, BADEA, the EU, UNICEF, USAID, DFID, IFC, JICA etc. etc. have been singularly, collaboratively, and continually pouring support in the implementation of Sierra Leone’s ‘Agenda for Change’.It is the visible presence of these institutions and their continued trust in President Koroma’s government that have helped in reviving hope in Sierra Leone; it is these institutions that have seen the silver linen in the once dark clouds that hung over Sierra Leone; and it is these institutions that have projected that Sierra Leone will grow by 35% this year.


But then the angel of death, Lucifer-like, calling himself the Global Economic Forum, stealthily entered into our hopes to spoil the party by bringing in some statistics as complicated and as inexplicable as the organization’s own knowledge about Sierra Leone’s real economic standing. Of course, in publishing what it referred to as the Global Competitiveness Index, the Forum did not hide the fact that this was the first time it was rating Sierra Leone. But what was more perplexing was that it was actually not the name-dropping Forum itself that did the so-called survey, but a local Sierra-Leonean-manned group called IFJ.


In other words, unlike the IMF/World Bank which not only have resident staff in-country but also send officials from headquarters on the ground, the World Economic Forum merely floated a job on the internet for any Jack and Jill ready to do it in Sierra Leone – without knowing their ingrained political affiliations. And it was picked up by one Mr. Jones.


When I heard the voice of this Mr. Jones purporting to be the head of a research team that conducted the survey on behalf of the World Economic Forum, it was invariably the voice of SLPP presidential flag-bearer Julius Maada Bio speaking. Before now, no one has ever heard about this Mr. Jones or his organization; and he had to struggle to explain to journalists who he is or where his office is! Simply put, I saw and found in him a man who wants to keep up with the Joneses, keeping up appearances!

Perhaps the World Economic Forum had good intentions by including Sierra Leone in its latest survey; but their job was channelled through the wrong hands – it was handed over to an SLPP operative who decided to put his party’s interests above his country’s in the run-up to the November elections. In essence, the outcome was that, a backyard idea invented at SLPP headquarters was being trumpeted as an authentic neutral assessment by an international organization.


Former SLPP Bank Governor J.D. Rogers would send in texts every other day to radio stations to remind us all about the World Economic Forum report on Sierra Leone (saying we are second to last with a grin), without telling us that he is the author of the self-same report. What a shame. What cheap propaganda!


What the SLPP propagandists have actually succeeded in doing is to expose themselves to the credible international community as a bunch of hot-heads who are not afraid to sell their country’s birth-right for a mess of porridge. Therefore, when the SLPP charlatans are saying that President Koroma’s statement of ‘fastest-growing economy’ is debunked, they don’t know that they are actually just insulting the IMF/World Bank and belittling the authority and authoritativeness of the world-renown institutions for the partisan voice of ‘dregman’ Mr. Jones’ IFJ or whatever it is called.


All of a sudden, the SLPP charlatans have forgotten that Sierra Leone was at the very bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI) for several consecutive years under their regime; and some of them were actually happy about our situation then, by arguing that it’s the best way to attract donor funds – of course for their private pockets! Today, under President Koroma, Sierra Leone has moved several places up the HDI ladder, primarily because of the thousands of women and children’s lives that are being saved by the free health care programme.


Perhaps the World Economic Forum would do itself a lot of good, and would in turn do a lot of good to Sierra Leone, if they would have neutral staff employed by their own organization to do a thorough research on Sierra Leone instead of relying on the skewed political point-scoring information dished out to them by the SLPP’s unknown Mr. Jones.


After all, we know that the so-called World Economic Forum is a hated talk-shop which is known to be more of a lousy invited-only meeting of “fat cats in the snow”, as rock singer Bono put it, thereby having attracted more demonstrations any time they hold meetings than they have helped in solving or reducing poverty.


The SLPP charlatans know nothing about this. Or they choose not to. Even the Ghanaians and the Nigeriens know that Sierra Leone is a fastest growing economy.


Here’s what published on 4th October 2012 in its business news in a report titled ‘Ghana’s Economy To Be 5th Fastest Growing In Sub-Saharan Africa’:


“Ghana will be the fifth fastest growing economy in sub Saharan Africa this year. That’s according to the latest World Bank report dubbed ‘Africa Pulse’. According to the report, the Ghanaian economy is expected to grow a little above seven percent. Sierra Leone, Niger, Angola and Rwanda will become the first four fastest growing economies in Africa in that order….”


And while our own Reuters correspondent Simon Akam is knee-deep in SLPP propaganda refusing to see anything good in Sierra Leone, his counterpart Philip Baillie, on June 12 2012 filed a report about the economic prospects of Niger titled ’Niger Economy To Grow 15% In 2012’, stating that,

“Niger expects its resource-rich economy to grow 15 percent in 2012, boosted by increased production from its uranium mines and growing output from its newly-started oil industry, President Mahamadou Issoufou said on Tuesday. Issoufou, making the first visit to London by a Niger president, cited IMF and World Bank forecasts to support his presentation of the Sahel country as one of the fastest growing states in Sub-Saharan Africa. He spoke at Chatham House….In the region, only Sierra Leone is expected to grow faster this year, by a forecast 35.9 percent.”


We have not heard of the opposition in Niger tearing their President apart for quoting the figures and forecasts of the IMF/World Bank. They need not look further to hope for a better future. They don’t need a World Economic Forum report to put spanners in the works. In fact, the Niger opposition, in a show of solid patriotism, welcomed the news.


Obviously, the SLPP has lost its depth and its wits. The party lacks patriotism. Its charlatans are exposing this fact to the whole world. Why on earth would Sheku Kallon, the SLPP’s most voluble propagandist, and his Sierra Leonean counterpart Pius Foray’s Democrat newspaper, look at the IMF’s positive report on Sierra Leone and twist it to ‘IMF Suspends Operations In Sierra Leone’? How else would a group of people gang against their own country’s progress?


When President Koroma recently said that our country has made so much impressive developmental strides under his regime that a World Bank official telephoned him to assure of continued support, the SLPP charlatans blew it out of proportion, misinforming the public that the President said he spoke with the World Bank’s President. They then threatened brimstone and fire if the World Bank did not clarify the situation.


And then when the World Bank’s Freetown office (being a fair player) responded, the charlatans again misinterpreted the clarification and took it out of context to proclaim that ‘World Bank Debunks Pres.


Koroma’s Lies’ (Global Times Monday 22nd October 2012). But, in actual fact, the World Bank’s terse statement was debunking the lies of the SLPP charlatans who misinterpreted the President.


This was the full statement released in Freetown on October 19 2012: “Contrary to news reports, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has not endorsed any candidate in Sierra Leone’s upcoming elections. The World Bank works exclusively on reducing poverty and supporting development programmes in its client countries and takes no part in political activity.”


Now, the question is, did the World Bank debunk President Koroma’s statement? No! Did the World Bank’s statement say ‘contrary to what President Koroma said…’? No! It said ‘contrary to news reports…’; meaning, contrary to what the SLPP charlatans have been writing, contrary to their lying that the President named the World Bank President, contrary to their attempt to belittle the achievements of this country in the last five years…..


And when just a few days later (23rd October 2012 to be precise), the World Bank actually released a statement in Washington saying Sierra Leone has made good progress and is now being ranked top in doing business, then you know that the organization cannot be swayed in giving praise where it is due.


Invariably, the sad thing is that you will never see or read about any of these positive reports in the SLPP’s media outlets if they are not skewed. So sad! With reports of Sierra Leone’s progress coming in frequently from credible international organizations (not JD Rogers’ backyard IFJ fronting for the World Economic Forum), who in his or her right mind would not believe that international officers, including those at the World Bank, are personally commending President Koroma for having moved this country forward?


Can a people be so desperate; can a party be so frantic for power that they would not want anything good to be said about their country when they are not in power? All they are praying for is more cholera, more poverty, more retrogression, more bad things, more evil…. But apart from the international community having acknowledged our steady progress, the people of this country (from Sorogbema to Segbwema to Kamboi to Kurubola to Masungbala to Maylaykuray Makama to Mabanta to Yams Farm) have seen the light; and they are ready to teach Maada Bio and his bunch of charlatans the lesson of their lives on November 17.


I’m just coming from Liberia where that country’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has urged her countrymen and women to emulate and try to catch up with Sierra Leone’s fastest-growing economy – it’s everywhere in the Liberian media! But the SLPP would denigrate anyone that says this in Sierra Leone. Simply put, in Sierra Leone, the SLPP opposition is in the opposite direction of progress. Gbainyama, gbainyama, daymia, gbainyama….


© Sheka Tarawalie

EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the personal views of the Deputy Information Minister. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Sierra Leone. This medium also does not subscribe to all the contents herein but in the interest of freedom of speech, we are giving space to the views of Mr. Tarawalie.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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