Respected economist and head of Department of Economics at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Samuel Jamiru Brima, has blamed the current economic crisis bedeviling the country on bad economic policies implemented by the government.
He was speaking yesterday on Radio Democracy FM 98.1 ‘Good Morning Salone’ programme.
Mr. Brima stated that although technocrats at the Bank of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development would attribute the current economic crisis on the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and drop in the price of iron ore, policy mistakes have led to the current crisis.
“Ebola affected the country, but I disagree that it is the primary cause of economic crisis in the country,” he said. He recalled that in 2013 he raised concerns that technocrats at the Treasury and Bank of Sierra Leone should be independent from political interference to enhance effective economic management, noting that there were certain economic variables like interest rate, inflation and exchanges rates at the Bank of Sierra Leone that were not controlled by the technocrats.
He noted that if the technocrats failed to control the rates on a technical basis and allow politicians to interfere, there would always be economic crisis in the country.
He added that the revenue generators and people that determine the expenditure pattern of the country should think well and not work to satisfy politicians.
The university don also averred that the reason for the country being ‘cash trapped’ was because the government spends than the revenue generated, adding that agricultural products and minerals were always vulnerable to external shocks.
The economist reiterated that if there was a ‘boom’ in the products, the government should not make a long-term expenditure, adding that such was not taken into consideration.
He further explained that it was discovered that when the iron ore was flourishing in the country, the expenditure outlay in the country was over increased, noting that iron ore business was vulnerable to external shocks as other African countries also produce the mineral.
“If Guinea, Ghana or Liberia decided to produce iron ore, there will be an increase in supply and the price will definitely decrease,” he explained.
Brima pleaded with economic institutions to work by their set rules and regulations, set and implement existing laws to avoid further economic woe in the country, thus admonishing the government to enforce the economic laws in the country and modify them to become strong, so as to control the economic system in the country.
According to him, it was defeating for the Bank of Sierra Leone to stop business transaction in dollars as they were supposed to have taken that decision before now, adding that the government and other development partners were involved in transacting business and signing contracts with partners in dollars.
He emphasised that government should mind its unbudgeted expenditure and do things within the budget and that they should be transparent in expenditure and revenue generation, as well as prioritise capital expenditure.