''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 1

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Friday November 18, 2011 - Are we missing something? What about the "good news" as proclaimed by the government of the one and only APC party, the offer of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) which according to government agents, means that all is well with the economy and that the management of our economy has never been so expertly handled, so professionally managed by so patriotic a personnel put in charge of our fiscal and monetary policies?

There appeared quite recently an article in one of the pro-APC (meaning pro-Ernest Bai Koroma) outlets that the International Development Association and we are told" which is a wing of the World Bank" offering 16, 700, 000 SDR units to Sierra Leone. According to Pasco Temple who we understand is the "new Press Attache" that this offer shows  just how well-managed our economy continues to be and so we have been rated "high in its ranking for the country’s sober and operative fiscal control policy".The Governor who signed this note Sam Bangura was murdered

This despite the examples of financial impropriety discovered by auditors when they went through the books of our overseas missions. And by the way lest the toilets start flying in our direction, please be advised that Pasco was the only one of all those who applied for the job of Press Attache and who went through the Public Service Commission and was passed fit for the job in terms of qualifications, experience and dare we add sobriety? Yes we can safely and without hesitation say yes - he is a sober man and worthy of his appointment. As for the others - well they performed so badly that the matter had to be laid on the table of the President who used his executive pen to recommend them. So do not be disturbed or perturbed when these other "Press Attache" take upon themselves to scrawl/scribble all manner of "articles" on the internet that damn, curse and abuse all those perceived as critics of the government. Just as you have in the Police, members who would never have even been invited for an interview, much more get to PTS, Hastings when law and order as well as respect for procedures were elements of good governance then, so it is with the magician's appointments and it comes as no surprise that some of his envoys have been "re-branding Sierra Leone" in such a disgraceful and scandalous fashion.

But back to the point of the SDR. Every time we hear of SDR, we get worried, very worried because our memory goes back to the time when one Christian Alusine Kamara-Taylor (C.A.) was Finance Minister and one Siaka Stevens was President. When the government wanted to introduce the SDR regimen in Sierra Leone at a time when our national currency the Leone appeared to be in freefall, the excuse given then was that "now that we are a fully independent and sovereign state, we no longer have to get our own money pegged to a foreign currency of the colonial masters." The true reason for accepting IMF intervention was never revealed nor were Sierra Leoneans told just what this would mean in terms of the devaluation of the national currency, the Leone.

And today, close to some four decades later, from out of the blue, we see a similar pattern of deceit emerging.

Has the government really signed up to the offer? Did it have a choice? What does this mean in terms of inflation and how is this new arrangement going to affect the ordinary Sierra  Leonean?

Kindly recall that last year, 2010 on the 46th anniversary of the founding of the Bank of Sierra Leone in 1964, we brought you this article on the travails of that institution.

Kindly recall how our national currency took a nosedive with reports rife about the smuggling of the currency abroad by Sierra Leoneans and their agents so that those wishing to conduct business in Sierra Leone come in laden with our money and not having to go through the banking and other legal channels.

If you really believe that inventing and concoction of stories to suit political goals is something new to the All Peoples Congress party, think again and go back to those days when stories were planted about one Hassan Gbassay Kanu, who was a Finance Minister under the Momoh regime and who dared to resist some measures which he thought would be inimical to the interests of the country - and not that he Hassan Gbassay Kanu was an angel on the index of corruption, but it showed just how some APC members felt the need to speak out then when the country was being taken to the cleaners.

Hassan Gbassay Kanu was no angel when it came to using his political office for his own good more so when contrary to then laid-down rules that public servants like Government Ministers should not be active in business. He had among others, such companies like Transworld Insurance Company Limited, Lioness Motor Company and Kanfish Company Limited.

Hassan Gbassay Kanu was alleged to have been caught trying to smuggle the national currency out of Sierra Leone in drums and barrels.

He lost his job but got the opportunity to clear his name when after the overthrow of the APC in 1992, the Commissions of Inquiry set up by the NPRC of Captain Valentine Strasser presented an opportunity for him to give his own side of the story and he made this revelation about how our currency started taking a fall."A ten thousand leone note - unimaginable only a decade ago

"There was a time when the leone was one leone to one dollar. Then we devalued, until eventually we floated in June 1986 at nineteen leones. When we floated at nineteen leones Government was able to put enough currency in the system only to take care of the transactions requirement of the exchange rate at nineteen leones. Therefore, when during the floating the leone depreciated to fifty five leones to one dollar we were not as a Government able to put currency in the system to take care of the transactions requirement at an exchange rate of fifty five leones to one dollar. So we had that gap.

We had ordered five billion worth of currency from De La Rue of Fifty leones and one hundred leones. Not a single cent from them had come. I have a minute here from the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone to me, telling me that the money "was not coming and the currency was short because we owed De La Rue Six Million United States Dollars which we had to pay; and that if we did not pay, the money would not come"

He also told the Beccles Davies Commission of Inquiry of how he crossed swords with then President Joseph Saidu Momoh before he got sacked as his Finance Minister. There are a number of scandalous episodes...to disgraceful and best read in the Volume Seven edition of the Commission together with the Government White Paper Thereon.

These are just 2 items to show how Sierra Leone was ripped apart through greed, more greed and massive greed with insensitive people holding the nation to ransom...while competing/fighting for selfish interests.

His Refusal To Pay for the Hashim House at Wilberforce

He had described this topic as Item No. 2 and his evidence was;-

"It ...had to do with a payment of TWO POINT EIGHT MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS (US$ 2 million, eight hundred thousand) to a person called Samir Hashim for his house at Wilberforce. The documentation had already been done and the former President was committed to this purchase. He told me to take the papers, all of them, from my immediate predecessor, Dr Sheka Kanu, who gave me a run down on the matter. I proceeded, when I took over, to State House and spoke to the former President about it. I wanted to know what we were going to do with the house, and I argued that I did not see any house, private  house, that would carry a value of TWO POINT EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS and that I was not going to co-operate in the purchase of the house. He told me that he was already committed to the Hasims and that I should proceed with it. But then I refused. Up to the time I left the Ministry of Finance, I made sure I did not touch those papers."

His refusal to pay Mr Jabbi of Messrs Aezoni

This is topic 'No. 4'. It had to do with the purchase of military and police uniforms. Mr Kanu's evidence was that former President Momoh had;-

"contracted, as Minister of Defence, to pay TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY MILLION BELGIAN FRANCS, at that time the Belgian Franc was more valuable than one leone, to a company called Arzoni, headed by a Mr Jabbi. When the documents were sent to me I walked again to his office on an appointment and wanted to know why we were giving the contract to a Guinean, with respect to the State of Guinea, whilst we had Sierra Leoneans like Foday Sayenu who had factories to satisfy the same purpose. I stated in my argument that if that amount of money was given to Mr Foday Sayenu, or even The value of the leone in downward plunge as rate against the British pound risesSIVCO, we would be investing in local industry and creating employment. He argued that he had known Mr Jabbi for a very long time since he was in the army. They were very close friends, and Mr Jabbi, would keep his confidentiality, and therefore I should make this payment to Mr Jabbi.

I also refused. I did not only refuse I even went to Foday Sayenu behind his back and said, please help me; go try to convince State House not to send a contract worth so much to Guinea. Convince them you can perform; or talk to SIVCO. But no; it was given to Mr Jabbi of ARZONI. I was in Washington. I had kept it for quite some time on my desk before signing it, mid September, 1989, to early October, 1989, negotiating this International Monetary Fund Programme that we have today...It was I who negotiated this programme, brought it and passed it in Cabinet in November, 1989.

Three weeks after I had passed it, he sacked me from the office and robbed me off the credit. But that is not the issue. Whilst I was negotiating it, he instructed one of my ministers of State (Mrs Claye-Simbo) to sign this payment instruction for Mr Jabbi...I came back and discovered this action. Again I went up to State House and protested. But he said to me that he had already told me what his position was; that contract was that of Mr Jabbi of ARZONI, and I was delaying action.

He, as President, had taken a position and that was it. But for the short period that I stayed in the Ministry of Finance, I made sure that no fiscal disbursement was made on that contract while I was there".

So there you have it.

Only the Good Lord knows what the present State House occupant could be doing in terms of contract awards, dubious deals and outright thieving of the country's resources.

There will be a day of accounting, yeah reckoning one fine day.

The graph on the right gives a 30-day history of the value of the national currency the Leone against the UK Pound.

Is this a result of the SDR that has created this sudden jump in just one month?



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