In fact your Government has achieved and done extremely well in road construction, transport, health delivery, maintained security and social peace, great improvement in the provision of reliable and regular electricity, etc. However, there are several other economic sectors, issues and problems your Government is yet to address including but not limited to the provision of adequate foreign exchange, spiral inflation, unemployment, inadequate Government revenue and budget, low salaries not commensurate with the cost of living, low agriculture productivity leading to heavy reliance on foreign food as a large part of our staple food rice is imported, little or nothing in the manufacturing industry, unsatisfactory central and commercial banking activities and; worst of it all the country’s continuous unfavorable balance of payment due to high dependency on imported commodities. These we must stop now Mr. President, before they get out of hands and reach. I don’t know if this is the right channel to inform you publicly with all due respect and diligence Sir, on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone. I wrote a similar letter to you in 2010, but did not get answer. So in the wake of the prevailing escalating economic problems, I took courage again to write you this public letter in response to your call to save our currency.
At first, the message extremely delighted me, thinking that at least our President has discovered the main factors leading to our country’s spiral economic problems, but my delight for this message short lived as the demand for foreign currencies has in fact increased which is manifested in the increase of money exchange rate from Le3,000 to a dollar in 2008 to now nearly Le7,000 and the price of 50 kg bag of rice rose from Le60,000 in 2008 to now Le200,000 in 2016 in most areas in the provinces.; meaning that what Le1 could buy in 2008, one now needs Le2.33 to buy the same commodity in 2016. This latest increase in the money exchange rate has led to a high proportionate increase in prices of commodities to higher unbearable levels. This hyperinflation is a concern to all the now seven (7) million Sierra Leoneans including you and our Government Ministries and Agencies, Parliamentarians as well as the multi-lateral and international organizations in the country. However, nothing really tangible or substantial has been done in the resolution of these problems, since your broadcast telephone message. It appears to me besides you that raised the concern and me that is writing this letter, there is no other Sierra Leonean, our Ministries and agencies, local, international and multi-lateral organizations that have come up yet with plans to remedy these burning problems. If we don’t contain and closely monitor this situation now, it is compounding and getting worse every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month and every year and may get out of hand and become uncontrollable and hopeless.
As you said in your message “Together we can save our currency, the Leone” and as enshrined in the first stanza of our National Anthem, “Firmly united, ever we stand; it is indeed only through togetherness and union we can save our currency. In a broader perspective, saving our currency is like saving our economy or more precisely developing our country as the three are intertwined and interwoven like a spider web. It is very difficult, if not impossible to resolve and get out of these distressing economic woes our country is encountering, but if we put our resources together of political will and power, material, money, knowledge, education, etc., we will certainly overcome and/or surmount all our socio-economic and political problems and challenges the country is encountering. For example, if we rally round and jointly adopt my proposals in this letter, study and understand them well, ask me questions, recommend complementary ideas of how they may work and be accomplished, etc. we will in a short period of time remove all the economic challenges stated above.
Mr. President, I want to inform you Sir, that ordinary Sierra Leoneans are very unhappy with the deplorable prevailing economic conditions on the ground which they are living with. Imagine someone living on less than Le5,000 per day which even most other people hardly get Le5,000 a day. Your Government is of course doing everything possible within its meager budget to sustain public operations and remove the economic sufferings caused by high unemployment, crippling inflation, inadequate utilities, etc. I think Sierra Leoneans are really weary and worried about these economic woes Mr. President. This we must say enough is enough Sir. Your Government needs to perform more quickly to immediately reverse these worsening economic conditions. Like you correctly said, let us fight together now as firmly united ever we stand and only through togetherness we can accomplish your Agenda for Prosperity for all Sierra Leoneans regardless of ethnicity Temne, Mende, Loko, Limba, etc. as well as regional, political and social affiliation. To tell you the fact Mr. President, you as a person really want our country to go before, but your Government ministries and parastatals have let you down for they are the ones to design cogent plan of actions like my 16 count proposals in this letter and recommend them to your Government for implementation, but they have not done enough of these and are doing very little or nothing to help you with your great economic desire you had wanted for this country as I listened to your various dynamic noble speeches and actions for the nearly nine (9) years now you have been in power. We trusted and still trust you and believe that you have the ability and potential to do more for the vast majority poverty stricken and weary Sierra Leoneans because we believe you can do the job. My proposals in this letter can assist you Mr. President to accomplish all your Agenda for Prosperity and indeed fulfill your promises you made in your manifesto for which we elected you for two full terms. We know and trust that you can do it if you engage all Sierra Leoneans to do it together under your guidance and supervision.
As you said in one of your noble and encouraging speeches during the upsurge of Ebola “Extraordinary problems require extraordinary measures” so the prevailing unbearable economic woes need extraordinary measures now to solve all our socio-economic and political problems. To do this, your Government will need total involvement of everybody the public and private sectors, all regions North, South, east and West as well as all ethnic communities. Without such inclusive total involvement, success will be very difficult if not impossible to accomplish. We must therefore rise together and stand up tall as a nation and people and fight and remove all these economic problems your Government and the people of Sierra Leone are encountering.
In answer therefore to your call to all Sierra Leoneans to come together to save our currency and in light of the phrase in the first stanza of our National Anthem “firmly united, ever we stand” I am moved by these calls to suggest the following 16 count measures that Am quite sure when holistically adopted by your Government and people of Sierra Leone together will simultaneously and automatically resolve and remove all our socio-economic and political problems and thus save our currency, economy and the country and its people. The adoption of the plan will add a huge bonus to your several presidential unprecedented achievements than any other President of the Republic of Sierra Leone since independence; no doubt your nickname given by the youths “World Best” and my name for you is “Dynamic Development President”. Adopting my proposals in this letter will indeed galvanize and concretize these affectionate loving nicknames and your development legacy will remain forever than any other Sierra Leonean Predecessor Presidents:
1.0 IMMEDIATE MEASURES TO SAVE OUR CURRENCY
(1.2) Moving away from the prevailing colonial cash economy which is the major hurdle to our economic progress (1.2) Establishing a credit economy like the one in USA to expand the economy rapidly and sustain it (1.3)Discontinue the regular Treasury Bill (TB) operations at the Bank of Sierra Leone (CBSL) to stop the regular contraction of the economy (1.4) Reactivate the National Development Bank (NDB) and the Cooperative Development Bank to facilitate industrial and agricultural production in the country. (1.5) That CBSL establish Banks’ Sectoral Lending Regulation to force banks invest in all sectors of the economy instead of just TBs (1.6) That CBSL establish and operate a Foreign Exchange Dealer Union jointly with the Foreign Exchange Dealers and banks to jointly establish and abide by the rules of the money market. (1.7) That CBSL establish and/or strengthen the Foreign Exchange Department/Section to effectively control our foreign exchange earnings(1.8) That CBSL establish and operate an investment department to finance private sector businesses that relate to manufacturing and agriculture production, particularly rice and animal husbandry. (1.9) That Parliament enact laws against payment of rent in foreign currencies, yearly payment in advance and controlling rent amount (1.10) Reduce/lower the General Services Tax which is causing constant price escalation (1.11) Minimize and control direct foreign investment to stop the huge capital flight by way of profits repatriations which is now the major cause of the high demand for foreign exchange and the related constant rise in the money exchange rates. (1.12) Establish a National Investment bank to underwrite stocks of industrial companies to raise capital for them (1.13) Enactment of laws requiring manufacturing enterprises to use local raw materials instead of imported raw materials to stop the use of our foreign exchange earnings to import them (1.14)That all organizations receiving their income in foreign currencies pay their workers and taxes in the currency of their income and their compensation must be commensurate with the services they render. This action will put more foreign currencies in our economy. (1.15) That the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) be required to design a plan of action for large-scale mechanized production of rice for self-sufficiency to stop the importation of rice which consumes annually nearly US$500 million of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. MAFFS must further be required to design a plan of action to raise cattle, chicken, hog, sheep, and goat to stop the importation of animal food as this too consumes a large part of our foreign exchange earnings. I have in my possession the detailed write-ups and explanations of these 15 proposals which I stand ready to submit immediately Am called upon to do so.
2.0 SHORT AND LONG-TERM MEASURES (WITHIN A YEAR AND ABOVE).
That a joint venture company to be known as “SIERRA LEONE INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION” (SLIDCO) be established with ownership structure of 25% for Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL), 45% for Sierra Leoneans and business organizations and 30% for foreign investors. All public corporations should be privatized and ownership transferred to SLIDCO. In this way Sierra Leoneans will together own 70% of all privatized public corporations and all other commercial ventures that will be undertaken by SLIDCO. SLIDCO should be authorized to issue and float five (5) billion bearer shares at US$ 1.00 per share or its equivalent in the local currency, Leone.
Mandatory investment in SLIDCO – That in order for Sierra Leoneans to own 70% shares of SLIDCO and be able to pay for their shares, the GOSL should enact a law mandating a compulsory investment in SLIDCO and purchase of shares by gainfully employed Sierra Leoneans both in the public and private sectors with 5% of their monthly gross salary and Government as well should invest in SLIDCO by purchasing shares with 10% of the annual public revenue or budget, while business organizations should purchase shares with 5% of their annual gross revenue. The compulsory investment scheme in SLIDCO and purchase of shares should be in force for fifty (50) years until the corporation is fully grounded, firmly rooted and financially matured to selfsupport its operations.
Utilization of the US$5 billion shares proceeds – SLIDCO will utilize the proceeds from the sale of shares to finance and undertake the following ventures: (1) Rehabilitate, modernize, expand, reactive and operate privatized public enterprises (2) Based on comparative advantage, suitability and availability of farmland in the 149 Chiefdoms, SLIDCO in collaboration with farmland owners, the Paramount Chiefs and District Council Administrations will undertake to establish 250 acres of 18 crop farms and plantations in each of the 149 chiefdoms across the country. These farms will aggregate 4,500 acres of 18 crops farms per chiefdom or 670,500 acres nationwide. (3) Establish animal husbandry farms in each of the 149 chiefdoms across the country to raise cattle sheep, goat, hog rabbits, grass cutters as well as chickens, turkey, etc. These will indeed ensure accomplishment of our food sufficiency and export to gain more foreign exchange earnings which will save our currency (4) Establish and operate 36 factories in the country to produce import substitute commodities to stop the huge foreign exchange used to import them.
Mr. President, we will certainly and definitely surmount and break through all our economic, social and political problems with the implementation of these proposed plans of action and thus save our currency, economy and country as well as all Sierra Leoneans alike, Temne, Mende, Loko, Limba, etc. in all regions of the country.