• November 1, 2023

ARISE IPP Saga… GOVT.’s CREDIBILITY AT STAKE

ARISE IPP Saga…  GOVT.’s CREDIBILITY AT STAKE
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Very recently, there have been several developments about Sierra Leone’s national trade, commerce, business and direct foreign investment credibility has not in any way serve as good news for a country that has been busy roaming the world wooing foreign investors to do business with, in diverse sectors. That calls was never ignore by friends of the country as there has been inflow of foreign investors into the country trying in their respective ways to explore whichever business opportunities they could lay hands on.

But the souring news of ‘self-cancelation’ of a lease agreement signed long ago with one of the major direct foreign investors, Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms (ARISE IIP) is a sad thing to talk about. And moving along a path of that nature, raise national investment credibility questions about Sierra Leone much as sincerity, credibility and inconsistency as well as reputation management are concerned, especially on the part of the Government of Sierra Leone. That beings the situation to self-retrospection in what has been done for and on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone to a foreign investor doing business with the administration as client. And further sends a message of the untrustworthiness on the part of the host; the Government of Sierra Leone. With this at play, what exact message is the Bio led government is sending to the world about Sierra Leone’s investment trustworthiness?

And how the Government of Sierra Leone would want ARISE IIP to take them? You mean as a serious and sincere or dishonest business people, wooing investors and businesses into the country? Come on as Government and sit up/ open your arms like any twin-breast parent and encourage all credible foreign investors coming in before the situation continue to bring more woes to the image of the country.

Hence the matter with ARISE IIP must be urgently addressed by President Julius Maada Bio, with the utmost satisfaction much as situation managers and handlers at the Justice and Mines and Mineral Resources ministries in their desperation for the juggler from elsewhere in South-East Asia have spilled the milk, all in furtherance to satisfy their immediate wants as against national interests, Government must act now to save the name and reputation of Sierra Leone. Government under the leadership of President Bio should also ensure that no investor cry foul, nor raise any cause for alarm, ie, all must be treated with equal opportunities.

ARISE IIP has been in the news for good reasons, especially for the rolling out of one of the biggest investment portfolios if not in the sub-region but in Sierra Leone. And as a testament of Government of Sierra Leone’s approval of the legitimacy of ARISE IIP in the country, President Bio performed the ground-breaking and turned the sod in April 2023, which marked the official commencement of ARISE IIP’s operations in Sierra Leone with an ongoing civil and construction work at the $1.2 billion United States Dollars Sierra Leone Industrial Zone (SIZ) site at Koya chiefdom Port Loko district in the Northwest of the country.

However, truth be told, the self-cancelation of the ARISE IIP –GoSL lease pact sounds deceitful to say the least. The reversal of the agreement, describing it as ‘self-cancelation’ has however been widely described by scores of Sierra Leoneans and friends of the country at home and abroad as the biggest global embarrassment for the business and investment reputation of Sierra Leone as a nation and a government has ever faced in history, not to talk of its entire cabinet with no exemption President Bio himself as an inconsistent political head in the whole aborted port and rail deal.

The decision by GoSL is also being deemed as one against the best interest of the country but few government workers of the day at the seat of power, mines and mineral and that of the justice sectors. And talks of certain public workers who are now busy trying to protect what they described as the interest of the country on false pretext. Such moves many believe have gone a long way in tarnishing the hard earned business and direct foreign investment reputation and credibility of the country, under the Bio misrule. This is something to think about strongly President Bio and try as best as you can to reconsider doing the needful to save the image of the land that we love. Saving the investment credibility of Sierra Leone in the continuing aborted ARISE IIP-GoSL saga is certainly the best option, by providing permanent solutions to the problem being caused by the two aforementioned line surrogate addendums to the presidency and their agencies.

As a country blessed with profuse investment opportunities, government President Bio should to think out of the box and offer ARISE IIP new land and seaport spaces for the construction and operations of a rail track and a port facility, instead of keep discouraging such a huge investment opportunity of that nature to a point probable fold up. That can serve as a suitable option for the foreign investor in question and at least to strongly reposition Sierra Leone in the good books of direct foreign investors. As an investment-friendly destination always wooing businesses into the country must take the few pointers into considerations whiles contemplating solutions around the GoSL-ARISE IIP Pepel port and rail deal. Failure to take that path will be catastrophic for government and the country as a whole, as Sierra Leone has already been on recorded for the inconsistent manner in which the government has mishandled the lease agreement signed with ARISE IIP.

The facts that it takes so much time and much income to develop and manage a very strong reputation for global attraction, particularly in terms of global political order, trade, commerce and direct foreign investments as well as brands’ credibility sustenance etc., it is worthy to note that government should also refrain from condoning anything with the proclivity of undermining the investment credibility of the country, so as not to scare investors and our business friends from anywhere in the world to do business in Sierra Leone. President Bio should thus stand tall and address that mess with iron fists.

Government information and communications handlers should also refrain from making inapt excuses and blame shifting. All must find amicable remedies to the problem and save the country from the looming scandals. The damages are being caused by the very people who are now busy trying to cover up the whole thing under the canopies of blame game of ‘self-cancelation.’

We cannot name names now to avoid going personal, nevertheless commenting further on the GoSL-ARISE IIP ‘self-cancelation’ issue in subsequent TALKING POINTS we shall possibly name and shame those selfish perpetrators who have caused this nation international embarrassments and disgrace for the records.

After huge government investment in the rebranding of the country and opened it up for trade, commerce and direct foreign investments since the war ended on January 18, 2002 to date seems to be rapidly reverted.

Unfortunately for an impoverish like Sierra Leone, all the gains made in the last twenty years by successive political administrations have been drastically reversed by a single decision taken by government under President Bio in what is being referred to as  ‘self-cancelation’ of ARISE IIP lease agreement for the operation of the Pepel Railway and Port facility.

What a shame and leadership failure of the Bio regime who cannot consolidate the legacies of his predecessors, simply because of his appetite for the creation of personal wealth and  leave Sierra Leone in shame among global investment competitors as an unreliable foreign investment destination. And we don’t want a continuation of that but a complete respite to credible direct foreign investors.

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