By Lansana Fofanah
The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa yesterday made it known to newsmen that the Mamamah Airport Project is not one of the topmost priorities for the Government.
Speaking during the Government Weekly Press Briefing at the Ministry of Information, Mr. Saffa said that the Government has priority for education, better conditions of service for civil servants and to be able to make timely payment of salaries to government workers.
He said that government can only sustain such an agreement if the terms and conditions are favorable, transparent and in the best interest of the country. “We have a very good working Lungi International Airport that has not experienced any need for a substitute. What we are looking at is to modernize the one we already have to international best standard”, he noted.
Commenting on the overall policy of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, he said that the government has been able to institute mechanisms in almost every sector of the country which has restored the confidence of investors.
He said that a committee has been established to look into the duty waiver that was suspended under the President’s Executive Order and whatever findings that would come out will have to be tabled in Parliament for a legislative amendment in order to make it legal.
Giving the success of the Treasury Single Account, he said that government has been able to instruct all Ministries, Department and Agencies to deposit their revenues at the Government single account in the Central Bank which was never the case in the past.
“MDAs used to collect monies and keep them in their private accounts, while government goes out there to loan at the expense of high cost and consequences. Now that their accounts have been directed to the Central Bank, they can have their budgeted operative expenses and at the same, government will have access to their account for service delivery.
Narrating his experience with the International Monetary Fund, he said that they have been able to restore the lost confidence between the IMF and the Sierra Leone Government as all developing partners have started coming on board.
He said that his recent visit to South Korea was a success as he was able to engage the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund and was able to present attractive development ideas that will be unfolding in the near future.
On the Energy sector, Mr, Saffa said that government has spent the sum of Le, 33Billion in order for EDSA to render service, but from all indications, according to him, the Energy Agreement endorsed by the former President Ernest Bai Koroma is a ‘Killer Deal’ which the government is trying to clean up. “We cannot complain now about the inconsistency of the energy because we are now in power. We were elected to solve that problem and Sierra Leoneans are expecting results and not excuses”, he emphasised.
Mentioning the success he has gained, the Minister of Information, Mohamed Rahman Swaray said that prior to his Parliamentary approval, he immediately stepped in to solve the long standing discord between workers of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation which has seen the return of sanity in that institution.
Mr. Swaray said that during his recent visit to the provinces, he learnt that places like Kabala, Karene, Kenema and Bonthe don’t have Fiber Optic facilities as stated in the former President’s handing over note.
He said that, in a bid to improve the communication sector, his Ministry will be bringing stakeholders from the National Telecommunication Company, Internet Service Providers and Telecommunication Companies to see how to improve the growing concerns of citizens in terms of good internet services and communication. He expressed the commitment of President Bio in repealing Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act, but in return, the press should be decent in their daily reporting.
Clarifying the ongoing rumor on social media about the alleged order of the arrest of the former Communications Manager at State House, Jarrah Kawusu Konte, Mr. Swaray said that he got a call from the Voice of America in connection to that. He said that, the government is in no way ready to witch-hunt any former employee of the Ernest Koroma government.
“We inherited a bigger economic problem which demands maximum concentration and not to have time chasing petty things”, he added.
The Deputy Minister of Information, Solomon Jamiru Esq said that the aim of the government is to strengthen an information system where the public can be able to table their concerns to the government through the media in a bid to build their trust.
“It takes sacrifice to bring change in any society. We believe the New Direction is the solution for the people of Sierra Leone. Therefore, everyone has to be on board to make that history”, he concluded.