By Ralph Sesay
Chernor Maju Bah has described the recent cabinet reshuffle as a dogged continuation in the wrong direction.
Several opposition parties including the APC and NGC and some civil society organizations across the country have also continued to criticize the New Direction for not aligning their recent cabinet reshuffle with their fiscal discipline and wage bill sustainability campaign promise to Sierra Leoneans.
It will be recalled that President Bio on Thursday, 7th November 2019 announced his second cabinet reshuffle in nineteen months since coming to power.
Regrettably for many the President sacked four Ministers and one Ambassador while also establishing two additional ministries: Environment & Gender and Children’s Affairs and two foreign embassies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia respectively.
State house also noted that the President has also appointed three other Deputy Ministers to serve in the Health, Finance and Agriculture Ministries, leaving the ministries with two deputies each.
Civil Society Organizations and Opposition parties have condemned government for the latest stance saying it had defeated its fiscal discipline policy.
Campaign for Good Governance, leading civil society organizations in the country in a press release issued just after the cabinet reshuffle announcement, says the reshuffling exercise does not align with its promise of expenditure control and wage bill sustainability espoused by the Bio government.
CGG added that the reshuffle has put unnecessary strain on the already exhausted wage bill.
The appointments and reshuffle, according to them, do not align with the government’s earlier pronouncements to implement additional expenditure control measures and harmonize the wage bill in the public sector to keep the wage bill sustainable.
“According to the government’s own records, the wage bill has increased from Le160.4 billion in March 2018 to Le 235.2 billion in September 2019, hence an increase of Le 74.8 billion which is almost 47% for just the month of September 2019 compared to March 2018,”the release adds.
CGG has also blasted over the low level of women appointed to political leadership positions in the reshuffle.
Chernoh Maju Bah of the main opposition APC in his preliminary assessment of the cabinet reshuffle posted on social media noted that the nation was shocked with a cabinet reshuffle that came across to many as insensitive and needless.
He claimed that one of the cardinal campaign messages of the government was that they will turn around the economy which they had described as ‘battered and the worse in the country’s history’.
Chernor Maju Bah noted that President Bio had persistently accused the erstwhile APC government of a bloated cabinet and wastage, and that almost two years on, Sierra Leoneans have experienced economic hardship never before seen.
‘’Inflation has only hyper galloped with prices of basic commodities increasingly becoming unaffordable, ’’Chernor Maju Bah maintained.
He accused the government of failing in all accounts to sustain the growth they inherited from the APC, let alone improve on it.
The biggest disappointment, according to him, has been the very poor management of the economy.
Report after report, including the MCC, has pointed to the fact that the government’s economic management has been disastrous, the erudite APC MP stated.
He urged the New Direction Government that after almost two years of trying the same failed policies, it’s about time they changed their course.
‘’What we have seen is a dogged continuation in the wrong direction as demonstrated in this most disappointing cabinet reshuffle which doesn’t even align with the president’s own avowed development priorities”.
He blasted that the current embassies, consulates and missions are not well resourced, yet a new embassy has been opened under such difficult circumstances; the timing is just simply wrong, he recounted.
He described the cabinet reshuffle as a deliberate denial of the suffering and aspirations of the general public.
This, according to him, clearly shows that the establishment doesn’t care about how the electorates feel.
‘This is a totally insensitive and unnecessary cabinet reshuffle’, Chericoco averred.
By Ralph Sesay