Sierra Leone: Govt. announces deep spending cuts to in desperate bid to address country’s economic woes
Posted by News Express | 5 October 2016 | 1,866 times
The government of Sierra Leone has ordered the implementation of sweeping spending cuts to help address the nation’s deep economic woes.
In a State House release late Monday, the government cut recurring expenditures by 30 percent, put a hold on all new domestically financed capital projects, and banned purchases of government vehicles as well as new office furniture and other accessories.
The measures also include a 50 percent cut on all fuel allocations and cell phone credit, a requirement that 70 percent of all payment to foreign contractors be paid in the local leone currency rather than U.S. dollars, and a suspension of all international travel for public officials except for essential trips.
This is the first time such measures have been put in place, but they got a mixed public reaction.
Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, head of the democratic development and human rights NGO Society for Democratic Initiatives, wrote on Facebook:
“Finally the government of Sierra Leone is putting in place austerity measures to stop the economic nosedive, a measure which people have been calling for long ago. Why not get the president to reduce cabinet, stop creating jobs for the boys, and allow civil servants to perform the role of the over-bloated government, and stop creating phony contracts and offering the same to cronies”.
But deputy government spokesman Ajibu Jalloh said that in the wake of the Ebola shocks and dropping iron prices, which led to the loss of over 40,000 jobs, the spending cuts will help boost the struggling economy.
Last month the government came under fire from the opposition for sending an alleged 50-person entourage to accompany the president at the UN General Assembly in New York, a charge the government denies.
Currently, the U.S. dollar stands at 5,645 leones, the highest since the Ebola outbreak ended in January.
A 2015 UNDP report estimated that 800,000 Senegalese youths age 15-35 are actively searching for employment.
Ajibu said that as desperate conditions needs desperate solutions, the measures are needed to move the economy forward.
•Text courtesy of Anadolu Agency. Photo showsSierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma.