• October 29, 2021

TRADE MINISTER TO EXPLAIN INFLATIONARY CRISIS

TRADE MINISTER TO EXPLAIN INFLATIONARY CRISIS
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Sierra Leoneans have been going through excruciating hardship since the Bio-led administration took the reins of governance in Sierra Leone almost four years ago. But it seems the trying and killing situation of hard times and economic hardship caused essentially by inflation has got into the stratosphere that the people’s representatives at the Well of Parliament – regardless of party affiliations – have started to call things by their names or speak the truth and shame the devil.

As a result of the biting hardship and runaway inflation people are presently grappling with in Sierra Leone, some key Members of Parliament have started speaking their minds in tandem with what the people want, especially on matters of the economy, price rise and the welfare of the people.

Therefore when the Trade Minister Edward Hinga Sandi went to present the Ten Million United States Dollars $10-M investment deal between the Government of Sierra Leone and Gold Brewery SL Limited at the Well of Parliament on Tuesday 26 October this year, he was bayoneted with several issues and questions regarding the runaway inflation or escalating price rise of essential goods and services the nation is presently grappling with. So MPs, on behalf of the people, have given a strong word of notification to the Trade Minister that he would be needed at the Well of Parliament to explain to the people of Sierra Leone why the runaway inflation and skyrocketing of prices of goods and services, particularly foodstuffs and other essential commodities pertinent to the wellbeing of the people of this country. The minister has therefore been notified and advised to explain the causes or share with the nation the reasons for the soaring prices of goods and services being experienced with rapidity in the country; otherwise the unbearable situation would lead to strikes and public demonstrations by citizens of the land, a detestable but ineluctable situation to bear.

One of the MPs who confronted the Trade Minister with the dire straits of the country’s hardship and soaring price rise is Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas, Deputy Speaker of Parliament. He said: “The prices of goods in Sierra Leone are becoming unbearable. The citizens are crying. What is the Minister of Trade and Industry doing? The President cannot be everywhere and you are there to address issues. We as Members of Parliament are curious to know what is happening.”

It is actually essential that Sierra Leoneans hear from the Trade Minister regarding the dire straits of the national economy and the skyrocketing of prices of goods and services in the country.

Since the ushering in of the Bio-led government almost 4 years ago, poverty has not seen a recessed in Sierra Leone. Few months ago, a report by the World Bank stated that poverty has increased by about 11 per cent from 17.4 per cent in 2018, when President Julius Maada Bio took over, to 29 per cent in 2021. And one key factor or reason for this state of affairs is inflation and price rise, which has continued to shrink the savings, slash the purchasing power and kill the value of the Leones and take-home pay of civil servants as well as edge out many jobless Sierra Leoneans from the survival precinct of one dollar a day.

Indeed, the MPs should not be happy with the present economic condition in the country, as the masses of people in Sierra Leone are suffering, crying and praying day in day out for a solution or change of the excruciating hardship and starvation they are undergoing in the country, significantly owing to the skyrocketing of prices of goods and services in the country. Today a bag of rice costs about Le500,000, which is the staple food in Sierra Leone. “We were told that ‘angri borku’ in Sierra Leone, and that they had come to redeem us and make us eat well, but we are now experiencing the worst under the government of President Maada Bio,” Stella Savage, a  single-parent mother of three children recently told Forum.

It is no gainsaying that the masses of people in Sierra Leone today are leaving on a wing and a prayer as they could not even tell how they survive each day of their lives on the land of Sierra Leone.

That is why even the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Abass Chernor Bundu, could not but support and join the Deputy Speaker to speak their minds regarding the skyrocketing of prices of essential commodities like rice, sugar, flour and cement in Sierra Leone.

He said: “I think it is time to give notice to the Minister of Trade of our intention to invite him to deliberate on this burning issue. We want to know what is going on. The people of Sierra Leone are concerned. I am afraid of the consequences.”

The Speaker of the House is right to express fear since no one knows to where this painful and unbearable situation would lead. The people of this country cannot afford to live and die a slow and painful death; they would definitely have to decide in the ballot box come 2023 whether they are prepared to contend with the dire straits of economic condition in the country or to make a change for the better.

Forum would therefore like to join the MPs to call on the Trade Minister to explain to the people of Sierra Leone what is going wrong especially regarding the economy and price rise that is killing the people of this country slowly or rather rapidly.

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