Salone News

Donor funds are protected in Sierra Leone

1 November 2020 at 17:41 | 2620 views

By Santigie Momoh, Political Analyst, Freetown, Sierra Leone

What a lot of Sierra Leoneans and foreigners writing or speaking at public forums in and out Sierra Leone do not know or refuse to acknowledge is that a lot of donor funds or other forms of foreign assistance are not even handled by the Sierra Leone government.

What the government handles is money raised locally through taxation or donations from local individuals and organisations when there is a crisis like money locally donated for Ebola, mudslide victims and recently, Covid-19.

So, it’s absolutely ridiculous and even stupid for some journalists and politicians to proclaim that the current SLPP government has embezzled "millions of dollars" of donor funds. How is that possible when the EU, the World Bank, the UN, the IMF and many other financial institutions have representatives in Freetown? Don’t these accusers think if indeed money from these institutions is stolen their representatives will raise an alarm?

Also, money for Covid-19 is strictly monitored in this administration and a lot of it is sent directly to foreign agencies and NGOs working in Sierra Leone.

On the other hand there was not a lot of monitoring of money coming into the country during the Ebola crisis. People and organisations in and out of the country were donating directly to former President Ernest Koroma at State House. He was receiving cheques and sometimes cash from individuals and companies including mining companies several hours a day as Ebola raged outside. That’s why he and his men and women are being investigated today for such money and other state funds and assets.

Even the Chinese government and Chinese companies do not normally give out cash to any government for any project. What they do is they will send their own workers and construction materials to have the work carried out. Local workers are also used but the senior managers will be Chinese. This is to ensure that the project, say a bridge project, is properly implemented and handed over to the government of the country. The EU, the UNDP etc control their own money too and it is their representatives, not the Sierra Leone government, that hire and pay local contractors for their projects.

It is therefore total nonsense to say the current government has embezzled millions of dollars from donor funds or foreign assistance. What the Sierra Leone government controls is the Consolidated Fund, which harbours all the revenues raised locally and most of it goes into the payment of salaries, which is a huge wage bill every month.

What the recent Commissions of Inquiry were investigating were monies stolen from the Consolidated Fund and donations for the various tragedies over the last ten years when the former government was in power.

The government of President Julius Maada Bio (photo) does not encourage naked thievery or corruption because they know these are the things that have been causing the extreme poverty and hopelessness of our people and they have been fighting corruption since the first day of their administration. They can therefore not turn around and do the same things have been preaching against. It does not make sense.

Stop the tomfoolery!

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