Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio used his New Year message to call for renewed commitment from his compatriots towards national development.
In the message on Wednesday, 1 January 2020, President Bio outlined the achievements of his administration, arguing that despite challenges caused by economic hardship, there were more reasons for Sierra Leoneans to celebrate than to moan about.
Bio recalled that the country came into 2019 “shackled” with high domestic and foreign debt repayments, unfavourable mining lease agreements, low domestic productivity, high youth unemployment, high inflation, and currency depreciation. He said that throughout the year, the people’s confidence and optimism as a nation were shaken by the resultant “mild” economic turbulence and unavoidable shocks his government inherited.
Among his successes, according to Bio, are the launch of the medium term national development plan, increased domestic revenue mobilization by streamlining and automating revenue collection and deposit processes, as well as clarified and reduced tax and duty burden on businesses. This makes it easier to establish and run a business, including providing aftercare at the highest levels, and provide more support for small to medium enterprises. He stressed that his administration did all this with the firm belief that private enterprise is the engine for economic expansion.
Bio also cited the prevailing peace, characterized by falling crime rates, lower prison populations, and no security threat as the country is going into 2020.
“Despite the baseless cynicism and mindless partisanship, I call for relentless optimism and hard work to develop our nation,” the president said in the speech that was first broadcast on state television, SLBC, on New Year’s Eve.
“If you share my belief that we can make Sierra Leone a better place, I urge you to share the responsibility with me for doing so with a firm commitment to make, act, be the change you want to see,” he added.