A press release issued by the Government of Sierra Leone on 9th April, 2018 through a Government Executive Order on revenue mobilisation, states that the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Trade and Industry have been directed to work out the details to set up the Statutory Agency for Cabinet consideration on the exportation of timber in Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, the Committee recommended an interim agent be appointed to carry out the following while a Statutory Agency will be set up in the medium to long term to manage the industry:
The press release said that the government has appointed Leadway Trading Company headed by Mr. Babadi Kamara to supervise the exports of the 699 containers in port and 194 containers outside the port that have already been paid for
The press release further directed that the agency will also have to verify the payments of in and out of port containers to the National Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and to submit a verification of payment reports of the 699 containers in port and 194 containers outside the port.
Essentially, Leadway was only given the mandate to export an estimated amount of 13,000 containers of timber already awaiting shipment before the imposition of the timber ban.
What continues to baffle us as a news medium is why the said Leadway is still exporting timber logs outside of Sierra Leone when government has only given them the mandate to export only 13,000 containers of timber.
We are also asking for Mr. Babadi Kamara to tell Sierra Leoneans how much money was realised from the exports of those 13,000 containers of timber.
We are also asking the appropriate government authorities to explain to Sierra Leoneans why they have failed to set up the timber agency three years after they promised to do so.
We will also want to know whether the Leadway compound has the legality to continue exporting timber without the appropriate mandate to do so.
We have reproduced the referenced press release for your perusal.
The Poor suffers disproportionally in corruption
–British High Commissioner
Lisa Chesney, British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone
By: Amara Kargbo
Lisa Chesney, British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone had addressed participants and dignitaries on the International Anti-corruption Day that the poor and marginalized suffer disproportionately from bribery and corruption as many go about their daily business.
Commissioner Lisa Chesney said this last week while celebrating the above occasion at the Freetown City Hall, where she declared that she was delighted with the theme of the celebration: women taking Centre stage in the fight against corruption. She said this extractive corruption is far from petty, it makes people’s lives a misery; it is corrosive and keeps people locked in poverty.
She added that corruption undermines public services and engrains injustice which its consequences hit women and girls harder and in more profound ways. Besides, it is an enabler of sexual exploitation and abuse. It undermines educational outcomes and maternal health.
She continued that women and girls must be empowered to speak up and say “No To Corruption,” to champion their voices and hold those who abuse their positions of power to account. And, no country can develop and realize her full potential if it leaves half its population behind. High Commissioner stated that when women are better represented in decision-making bodies, societies are fairer, more peaceful and less corrupt. Everyone benefits when women participate fully in society, public life, politics, and in holding governments and institutions to account.
She commended the drive and focus of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner to address the gender imbalance in this important area and also the commitment to tackling corruption in Sierra Leone.
The International Anti-Corruption Day considers every single country across the globe should be reminded that a sign of a strong and open democracy is one with credible, competent bodies that can hold governments to account; that provide checks and balances on important topics of national interest like corruption, electoral conduct, public spending; that have the space to truly operate without bias or political interference.
This is no easy task wherever in the world you sit. But it is the strong, open societies with accountable institutions that are the societies that will be in the best shape to develop, attract investment and provide an environment where their people thrive.
In addition to detecting and investigating corruption, it is important to tackle impunity, especially where gender inequality often makes it harder for women to access justice. There need to be consequences where corruption is found, applied equitably, without bias or interference, by an expert and independent judiciary. That is why the UK supported the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Court which has an important mission in effectively adjudicating and sentencing cases, to create an effective deterrent and build public confidence.
Fighting corruption is everyone’s responsibility, and the fight can be won only when citizens and government work together in partnership and the interests of all.
Bio hosts 4th Media Cocktail
His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio will today attend the fourth edition of the annual Presidential Media Cocktail organised by the Office of the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman in the Office of the President.
The event, which is scheduled to take place at the Country Lodge, Hill Station in Freetown, will continue to create the platform for President Bio, other senior members of government and media practitioners across the country to interact with journalists and media owners in a very light and relaxed atmosphere.
During the event, the President is expected to engage the media on key strides already made by his New Direction Government in promoting and protecting freedom of expression and of the press with specific reference to the landmark repeal, in October this year, of Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalised libel and suffocated free expression.
“I have always argued that the repeal will unshackle free speech, expand democratic spaces, and consolidate our democracy. It will open up the space for the growth of the media industry in the country. Professionalism will be enhanced and the best and brightest and more women, especially, will be encouraged to work their trade.
“Enforcing criminal libel laws contravenes international democratic governance practices. It contravenes international human rights treaties, to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19(3) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. All of those international commitments condemn limitations to the right to free expression,” he said.
It is worth noting that President Bio is the first Head of State in Sierra Leone to have initiated such an interactive session with media practitioners, something which many have described as a sign of his commitment to broadening the democratic space in the country.