The economic crisis in Sierra Leone is becoming a rallying cry for the people, as they face rising prices, inflation and widespread unemployment. The hardship has been dubbed the ‘’Bio Anthem’ ’by some, in reference to the current President, Julius Maada Bio.
While he says he is taking steps to address the economic crisis, many people are still struggling to make ends meet.
The failure by parliamentarians in allowing the passing of the 2024 Financial Act in the Well of Parliament for it to become law, this action saw the automatic sky rocketing of the prices of rice, cement and iron rod in addition to the increment of fuel prices by the petroleum regulatory agency (PRA). This has surged the hardship on business people and ordinary travelers as well as affecting many more people across the country.
The issue of the president’s traveling expenses has been in contention since he became president in Sierra Leone. Many questions are being asked about the relevance of such costly trips to various countries around the globe with huge entourages when virtual conferences that cost much less could be arranged.
All of these trips contribute to the bloated government expenses which have come under scrutiny, as the cost of these trips are often several times the average annual salary of the whole of Sierra Leone.
Moreover, some right-thinking Sierra Leoneans have argued that these expenses could be better spent on improving the country’s infrastructure and economy, which could lead to long term benefit for the people. Again, the government has defended the president’s travels, saying they are necessary for the country\s diplomatic and economic relations.
Nevertheless, if this travelling is counter-productive we will say, President Bio is bridging the country’s diplomatic and economic relations, by ushering investors that can contribute to the country’s employment paradigm but the reverse is taking place in this unnecessary travelling of the president and his entourages, some concerned people say.
In addition to that, the opening of the new Freetown International Airport in 2018 was supposed to be major boom for the country, but instead it has become a source of frustration and anger for many. The airport fees are high and it is said to be among the highest in west Africa, making it unaffordable for many people to travel in and out of the country. This has a devastating effect on the country’s tourism industry, as well as on businesses and individuals who rely on international travel. Many have called on the government to lower the fees, but so far there has been no response.