• August 11, 2021

POVERTY ABOUNDS AS BIO ROAMS AROUND THE WORLD

POVERTY ABOUNDS AS BIO ROAMS AROUND THE WORLD
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Poverty in Sierra Leone is said to have increased exponentially under the current dispensation with an increase of 11.4 per cent from 17.7 per cent in 2018 to 29.1 per cent in 2020, according to the 2021 Word Bank Sierra Leone Economic Report launched on 5 August 2021.

It is stated that urban areas, particularly the capital city, Freetown, have seen the largest increase in poverty. While the people are suffering and reeling in poverty, the father of the nation, President Julius Maada Bio, is busy roaming around the world with his biological family on the expenses of taxpayers’ money.

The skyrocketing of poverty in Sierra Leone has befallen the people in the midst of government’s brag of transforming the national economy and registering developments in the country.

However, this has not been the case as reported by the World Bank and other international institutions promoting economic development around the world.

The questions are: why won’t there be increase in poverty, when inflation and price rise continue to hit the sky? Why won’t there be increase in poverty when fuel price increase and transport fares continue to dent the pockets and purses of people day in day out? Why won’t there be increase in poverty when water tariff and costs of other socio-economic necessities continue to go into the stratosphere?

Moreover, against this challenging inflation faced by the people of the country, salary increase is largely incommensurate with the level of price hikes of goods and services the people need to contend with to be able to lead a decent life. Life in Sierra Leone today is such that people have no chance of succeeding hence the majority of people in the country, especially the unskilled and poorly educated youths, haven’t a prayer of making it or succeeding in life.  Job opportunities are infinitesimal, and even the people employed are merely surviving on a shoestring salary between the region of Le300,000 and Le900,000.

Also, while many bonafide civil servants in the ministries, departments and agencies are living within the income of Le1,500,000 a month, political appointees and workers employed on ruling party favouritism are receiving substantial salaries from twelve million Leones above.  We have also learnt that government budgetary allocations for 2021 are yet to be disbursed to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to let the MDAs run government affairs smoothly and efficiently. Reports have it that “government is finding it difficult” to finance the operations of MDAs, hence the reason why allocation for the fiscal year 2021 remains a challenge. “It is understood that whilst government is finding it difficult to finance the operations of MDAs, the massive employment scheme created for party members has adversely affected the smooth running of government operations,” stated one of the reports.

Furthermore, job creation in the country is minimal, and less of it provides gainful employment or is actually rewarding. Each year thousands of graduates come out of universities to find no job in the market. Business or corporate investment – indigenous or foreign – is discouraged and shying away as the political climate portends calamitous future for the country.

There is so much unemployment and inflation in the country that people are becoming more and more disillusioned and hopeless such that they are only operating on a wing and a prayer, hoping that some day they would succeed in changing their economic conditions, even though there are no signs of socio-economic developments in the horizon under the present political dispensation.

It is apparent that the present administration has not been really successful in their attempts to arrest inflation. And as inflation increases so also unemployment, because higher prices for goods and services affect people from across all strata of living conditions and inevitably increase unemployment in the country.

It is, really, worth taking note of the twin evils of unemployment and inflation and what detriments they are to the national economy.

Inflation, it is said, is the silent thief that robs the consumer of current purchasing power and depreciates the value of savings. It is also claimed that inflation distorts profits, forcing business people to pay higher prices for current assets and higher replacement costs for machinery, equipment, and buildings. Inflation, as well, weakens our international balance of payments position.

As prices of goods and services continue to increase in the midst of meagre salary and growing unemployment, suffering and hardship abounds.

Indeed, suffering and hardship continues to hit hard on the people of this country as the government dwells on conceiving and implementing policies and actions that are not working or are by and large detrimental to the socio-economic conditions of the people. Whilst the government is battling with containing the Covid-19 pandemic, amidst a challenging and dire economic climate in Sierra Leone and around the world, it is vital that prudent steps are taken to continually build the economy and bail the people out of poverty; not to engage in counterproductive moves, such as fruitless overseas travels with their fat per diems, to the detriment of the national economy.

It is therefore advisable that our government put in place correct and prudent economic measures to transform the economy of the country and change the increasing poverty profile of Sierra Leone and her people.

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