October 1, 2022

By Ralph Simeon Sesay
It is a practice in Sierra Leone that citizens, as well as government, have taken the management of assets belonging to the state with complete neglect. Government remains the largest owner of property, ranging from land, buildings, vehicles and machinery, etc. But how these assets and property have been managed over the years is nothing to write home about.
Unscrupulous citizens, including politicians, whose business is it to protect and maintain government property for generations yet unborn, either have end up destroying such properties or willfully convert them into their own use and benefits.
Cognizant of this challenge, Government has enacted the Statutory Act of 1990, which subsequently created the National Property and Government Assets Commission. The Commission has enormous powers, including summoning and examining persons with a view to making enquiries into any information it may have received regarding government assets.
Other functions of the Commission also include the recording and documentation of all government assets and property and the presentation of such a report of to the President and Parliament on annual basis.
It is a fact that Government has not been able to fully record and document its assets over the years, largely because the National Government Assets and Property Commission has been grossly under resourced in terms of human and logistical support. Government has assets all over the country but the activities of the Commission has only been relegated here in Freetown.
This has created a field day for citizens to encroach on government land and squatters taking over government buildings at will. Government after Government has continued to lose valuable assets to unscrupulous citizens and politicians just because of the inaction from government to effectively document and manage such assets.
The Ministries, Departments and Agencies, which control or manage such assets or property on behalf of Government, have also shown complete complacency and at some time connived with other persons to convert government properties.
As government continues to lose its own properties to rogues, it (Government) has now become a tenant to private individuals as a way of providing accommodation for some offices. The Governance Transition Team Report of 2018 has revealed that Government was spending colossal sums of money to private individuals on rent for government offices such as: EPA, USD62,000, Petroleum Directorate, USD145,000, NRA (19 Wellington Street), USD82,964, NRA (17 Wellington Street), USD85,000, NRA (38 Wellington Street), US47,000, NRA (37 Wellington Street),USD35,000.
All of these buildings belong to government officials that were serving in the previous governments.
Why was Government spending such fabulous monies in renting private property rather than rehabilitating the huge number of dilapidated buildings it has to serve as office space for these government agencies? This could only be realized if the National Property and Government Commission is given the necessary support to establish its presence across the country and fully document all government property for the attention of Government.
The New Direction should be able to look at the management of Government property and assets with a new perspective this time round, especially so when the regime is pushing for a different approach in the management of state resources. Government property and assets should constitute an integral component of such prudent management property. Documenting all government assets and property should be a stepping stone to the actualization of this dream. For this the National Property and Government Assets Commission should have its presence in all regions with a view to undertake its mandate alongside other key players as provided for in the Statutory Act of 1990.