IFC vice President engages deputy minister of finance II

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The Vice President of Economics and Private Sector Development of the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), Susan Lund,  who is on a three-day working visit in Sierra Leone has on Thursday 9th June 2021 paid a courtesy visit to the Deputy Minister of Finance II Bockarie Kalokoh who is representing the Minister of Finance Denise Vandi at his George Street office.

Welcoming the vice president to the ministry and the country, Bockarie Kalokoh stated that Sierra Leone has over the years enjoyed a cordial relationship with the cooperation, stating that this visit by no less a person than the Vice President is a manifestation.

He further stated that because of the confidence impose on the leadership of the country; development partners are still engaging the Bio Led administration on projects one year before national elections. Mr Kalokoh thanked the International Finance cooperation for their interventions in the private sector over the years and requested that the cooperation expands on its portfolio for Sierra Leone.

Deputy Minister II Bockarie also stated that one big challenge the private sector is facing is access to long term sustainable financing. “Companies going into production most times raised their capital which is not sustainable” he added.

In the area of support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Mr Kalokoh stated that even though they faced several challenges but also outlined opportunities to support their development through providing finance and capacity building. He called for further technical discussions to look at the IFC’s portfolio, opportunities and possible interventions.

In her statement, the Vice President of Economics and Private Sector Development of the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), Susan Lund said the IFC is committed to expanding its operations in Sierra Leone, stating current they have several projects with the private sector in Sierra Leone like Kings Beverages including their agricultural supply chain and PC and sons onions farm in Lungi.

Susan Lund continued that they are interested in energy, infrastructure and financial services, stating that they are here to engage both government and private sector to explore the opportunities.

Principal Deputy Finance Secretary Mathew Dingie in his statement stated that the government have been doing a lot to support the private amidst all the challenges.

He furthered that the government is looking at private sector interventions in providing services in agriculture, water and energy. He also spoke about the policy shift that provides space for the private sector in agriculture.

Susan Lund accompanied by Aliou Maiga regional director of IFC and Freddy Roy adviser to the VP also visited the Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Chief Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone prof. Kelfala Kallon as-well-as other government and private sector players.

Foreign Affairs Minister Signs MOU with Bahraini Counterpart

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Professor David Francis, yesterday, Wednesday 8th June 2022, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with his Bahraini counterpart, His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, for the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries. The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Conveying heartfelt appreciation for the hospitality accorded to him and his delegation during their stay in Manama, Professor Francis recalled their discussions on the Margins of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2021, including the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey, which culminated in his official visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, noting also that it was a testament to the special relationship existing between the government and people of the two countries.

Sierra Leone’s trade and investment potentials was also discussed; especially in the Agricultural and Mineral sectors, citing the vast hectares of arable land, coupled with the recently-revealed oil and gas deposits in the country’s offshore basin. The Honorable Minister therefore suggested the urgent need for a business delegation from Bahrain to visit the Republic of Sierra Leone to explore trade and investment opportunities between the two countries which would be preceded by a visit of trade and investment experts from Sierra Leone to showcase the country’s trade and investment potentials. 

Making a case for Sierra Leone’s bid in the Non-Permanent Category in the UNSC, he added that the country has progressed steadily on the international stage, playing a coordinating role in the Africa Union Committee of Ten (C-10 ) of the United Nations Security Council Reforms and serving as the Chair of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of the AU.

“Your Excellency, I am pleased to inform you that Sierra Leone is the African Union endorsed candidate for the United Nations Security Council bid in the Non-Permanent Category for 2024-2025, with elections to be held in June 2023. We will conduct our pre-launch campaign in New York on 7th July 2022. I therefore kindly request Bahrain’s support as well as its allies,” the Hon Minister stated.     

For his part, His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani thanked the Honourable Minister for his working visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain with the view to strengthening and deepening relations between the two friendly countries. He spoke about Bahrain’s effort to maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region, noting it strives to normalise relations with the State of Israel.

Briefing his counterpart on the progress made over the years to support the Embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assigned Desk Officers to follow up on bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Bahrain and other friendly countries. He highlighted Bahrain’s numerous strides to improve its Human Rights status, and called on Sierra Leone to support Bahrain’s fourth re-election bid in the Human Right Council.

The two Foreign Ministers agreed to support each other’s bid on a reciprocal basis and to further strengthen ties through the signing of various bilateral agreements. Accompanying the Honourable Minister was Her Excellency the Ambassador, Haja Ishata Thomas, Sierra Leone’s Non-Resident Ambassador-Designate to the Kingdom of Bahrain and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Sierra Leone.

I Won’t Comment But Will Comment…

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

I will not comment on the 2021 Mid-term Population and Housing Census that has all the hallmarks of a fraudulent fraud. It is Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats-SL), itself, that makes the Freudian slip in its “Message To Census Field Staff”, dated 2 June 2022, that a good number of enumerators only did between 31% to 50% of their assigned tasks, so they would only be paid for such tasks. 

And as I’m trying to digest that Freudian slip, which shows the Statistician-General and his team’s deceptive deception, Stats-SL tears off its trousers and Boxer right in the middle of the PZ area (figuratively, of course) and tells the nation that several enumerators did between 1% and 30% of their assigned tasks during the course of the 2021 Mid-term Population and Housing Census. This tells you that the whole exercise was not only a process in futility but a half-assed one believed to be credible by either opinionated fools or partisan clowns!

This half-assed-ness (is this another One Dropian word?) of the 2021 Mid-term Population and Housing Census is being ridiculed by Yusuf Bangura who, in a recent article, noted that, “The figures that really hit me in the census results are those for Western Urban and Western Rural. Does Statistics-Sierra Leone really believe that there are more people in Western Rural (662,056) than Western Urban or the Freetown municipality (606,701)? This must be the joke of the century….The really disturbing point about the Western Urban figure is that it is even lower than the figure recorded in the 2004 census (772,873), which was conducted under an SLPP government—the party of those who are currently in power. Are we to believe that the 2004 figure was also inflated by the Tejan-Kabbah SLPP government?”

And the other issue, which I won’t comment on, is the proposed non-refundable fee of Le500,000,000 (five hundred million Leones) for those who intend to aspire to be the presidential candidate for the All People’s Congress (APC) in 2023. Those who are arguing that such an amount is exorbitant should come to terms with the fact that modern-day Presidential politics is no longer about ‘Dregmanism’ but about someone who has an untainted persona and clout to marshal funds to oil the machinery of political campaign(s). If someone who is aspiring to be President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is unable to use his/her networks to raise less than US$45,000 to buy an application form, then s/he should go to Abacha Street and start some form of petty trading! People should learn to cut their coats according to the available materials (If five yards are normally used to sew you a suit but you only have four-and-half yards; you could still sew your coat by making it slim-fit with a Michael Jackson-like trousers!).

In my opinionated opinion, what I think the APC’s Transitional Elections Rules and Regulations, approved by the Interim Transitional Governance Committee (ITGC), are trying to achieve is to sanitize the political space within the party.  We all saw that, in 2018, when the political space was a free-for-all affair; clowns, fools, conmen, and even mad people who appeared to be sane muddied the already murky waters. At least, with a non-refundable fee of Le500,000,000 (five hundred million Leones), the APC will not have jokers trying to transform the party’s Flagbearer race into a sort of circus as it looked like in 2018.  

Another issue that I won’t comment on is the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)’s mumbo-jumbo about “plugging leakages and wastages” in Government’s spending. I can’t imagine President Julius Maada Bio allowing his cash-strapped administration to allegedly spend nearly half-a-million United States’ dollars in chartering a plane, paying hotel bills, and giving per diems to members of his large entourage just for him to go to Dubai to “tell hush for berin” when Sierra Leone has an ambassador resident in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Equally unimagined is his financial frivolousness to go to Kenya just to engage in Ngorboi-like dance with President Uhuru Kenyatta to celebrate “Madaraka Day” and enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply which his SLPP government is unable to provide in Freetown!

Prior to that seemingly “Madaraka Day” financial frivolousness our Commander-in-Chief, whose administration has great difficulties in paying salaries on time and owing local contractors millions and millions of United States’ dollars, could put up a beggar’s show-off by pledging US$500,000 to the African Union Humanitarian Fundraising during the opening session of the 16th Extraordinary Conference of the African Union in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on Friday 27 May 2022. Albeit I’m not commenting on the mumbo-jumbo about “plugging leakages and wastages” in Government’s spending; but if I should, I will say that our Head of State and his hangers-on seem to be behaving like deprived hungry children who chanced upon an unguarded orchard!  

And don’t ask me to comment on recent visits to the Makeni Lodge of former President Ernest Bai Koroma. I won’t. Few days ago, Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited the former Head of State and they spoke in camera. Last Saturday, the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney, visited him at his residence. “The two had a closed-door meeting which the former president described as fantastic”, says a report from the Office of the Former President.

According to Sheriff Mahmud Ismail, the Personal Assistant to Ernest Bai Koroma, “[last Saturday’s visit] follows several other meetings the Sierra Leonean statesman has had in Freetown with the British High Commissioner and other Western diplomats in Sierra Leone [in private].” I think something is brewing which senior members of the Bio-led administration know about but are not telling their unsuspecting supporters. They appear to be guiding them far enough down the wrong path, enveloping them in enough smoke (to paraphrase Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power), and by the time the SLPP grassroots realize their elites’ intentions; the 2023 elections would have been won by the APC!

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