Sierra Leone-Governance-Accountability

Sierra Leone toughens up anti-grant rhetorics

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has reiterated his determination to root out corruption in his government, stressing that there will be no impunity for anyone involved in malpractice.

Bio told high ranking government officials at an ongoing cabinet retreat in Freetown that he would have no mercy on even member of his government who are found wanting for corruption.


“I shall not hesitate to discipline anyone who violates the civil service code,” he said at the opening of the retreat that brings together cabinet ministers and the heads of Ministries, Departments
and Agencies (MDAs) on Thursday.


“State resources are meant for the delivery of public services. State resources are not personal or family resources. Bad actors will be singled out, sacked, shamed and punished in accordance with the law, henceforth. There is no place for impunity in this government,” he added.


It’s the second retreat of cabinet since the new government was installed in April 2018, and the first of 2019. The government says the meeting was designed to foster amicable and collaborative working relationship between and among all MDAs.



Officials say the first cabinet retreat held in June last year revealed, among others, the absence of team work, periodic assessment and professionalism in the system.


President Bio, in his statement, added that personality differences, coupled with a culture of indiscipline, were also contributing in holding back progress in service delivery.


The president also stressed on the need for punctuality at work, noting that it is not an option but a requirement for every public official. He said the productive use of one’s time in their office was
a professional obligation.


President Bio had in the past embarked on unannounced visits to government offices in an attempt to urge punctuality and dedication to work.

The president said he no longer has any intention to embark on any such visits, but warned that he has put in place a system that would let him know whether or not officials are in office, or when they report for work and when they leave office.


As always, the president sounded toughest when it came to corruption. He campaigned on the promise of instilling discipline in governance and he has championed this by mounting a strong anti-graft crusade.

He used his speech to reiterate his position, in light of ongoing debate aroused by the creation of a Commission of Enquiry to investigate officials in the administration of his predecessor for alleged
corruption.


“Good public officials have no reason to fear Commissions of Enquiry. These Commissions of enquiry are not just meant to identify what was stolen, they are meant also, and more importantly so, to identify how processes were gotten wrong. It will help to ensure real change,” he said.


President Bio added that political and administrative heads should know that the interest of the country was larger than individual interests.


As a way of encouraging intra-governmental collaboration, he ordered that all MDAs should henceforth do their press statements in consultation with the Information Ministry and the Strategic
Communication Unit within the Presidency.


The retreat is being held on the theme: ‘Strengthening Political and Administrative Relations for Effective Service Delivery. It is about strengthening government effectiveness, said Chief Minister Prof. David Francis, whose office organizes the retreat. He stressed that the expectations of Sierra Leoneans were high and immediate.


“So public sector service delivery today is very important and critical to the success of the ‘New Direction’ government,” he said.

According to Prof. Francis, the objective of the retreat is to review progress on the eight government delivery priorities, contained in the National Development Plan (NDP) which is still under development.

The retreat, he added, will also allow colleague ministers and heads of departments and agencies to make their inputs for the first time into the NDP which is being prepared by the Ministry of Development Planning.


The MDAs heads will also be oriented with the performance contract agreement, which they are expected to sign on Jan 31. The final day of the retreat will be dedicated to the Ministry of
Basic Education in a view to enable the rest of the cabinet to support the president’s free education program.

KC/abj/APA

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