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State Opening of Parliament: President Bio’s address

10 May 2018 at 20:52 | 2647 views

Mr. Speaker,
Honourable Vice President,
Honourable Chief Justice,
Ministers of Government,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the people of this great country for giving me the opportunity to address this honourable House for the first time as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

My victory is not only for myself or the Sierra Leone People’s Party, but also for the people of this great nation. This historic victory demonstrates the advancement that the people of Sierra Leone has made in consolidating our nascent democracy.

2. I am here this morning to translate my campaign promises as
articulated in the New Direction People’s Manifesto into policy actions.
The underlying principles of the New Direction are Disciplined Leadership,
Integrity, Efficiency, Professionalism and Delivery. I am making this
address against the backdrop of the worse economic situation that this
country has faced since independence and characterized by double-digit
inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden,
unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors. Therefore,
taking tough policy actions is imperative to tackle the current serious
economic situation that we have inherited.

The Economy
3. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, real economic growth rate
slumped to 3.5 percent in 2017 from 6.3 percent in 2016 largely due to
the slow down in mining activities especially iron ore and diamonds. Growth
of the non-iron ore economy also slowed to 3.4 percent compared to earlier
projection of 4 per cent owing to reduced activities in construction and
trade sectors. In 2017, while agriculture sector including fisheries and
services grew by 4.6 percent and 4.8 percent respectively, but mining and
quarrying plummeted by 16 percent.

4. Mr. Speaker, to reduce the vulnerability of our country to external
shocks, my administration will reduce its reliance on minerals. To this
end, I will diversify sources of economic growth with special focus on
agriculture, marine and tourism.

Agriculture
5. The recent past efforts in agriculture have not produced the desired
results. Despite the large acreage of arable land, Sierra Leone continues
to be a net importer of rice. The Budget Statement 2018 estimated rice
import at US$108 million for the first half of 2017. For 2018, this figure is
projected to be at least US$200 million. According to the 2015
Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis study conducted
by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO), 49.8 percent of households were food insecure in 2015 compared
to 45 percent in 2010. That is, they consumed limited or insufficient food
to maintain a healthy and active life. Global Hunger Index 2017 ranks
Sierra Leone as the third hungriest country in the world with percentage
of population that is undernourished estimated at 38.5 percent compared
to 28.6 percent in Guinea and 16.2 percent in Ghana.

6. In the New Direction, the overall goal of our agricultural policy is
sustainable and diversified production of food on a scale enough to feed
the growing population as well as providing gainful employment. Our
immediate priority actions will focus on (i) attracting and increasing
investment in agriculture (ii) sustainable investment in mechanized
commercial agriculture (iii) increasing food crop production (iv) increasing

7. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, investment in agriculture will
largely be private sector driven. While my administration is committed to
increasing budgetary allocation to the sector to a minimum of 10 percent
in the next 2 years in line with the Maputo Accord, we shall rely on private
investment in the sector. The political class and urban middle class must
demonstrate interest in agriculture. Accordingly, effective 2019, investment
in agriculture (including animal husbandry) will be a pre-condition for
holding political office. The Office of the President and Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry will work out the details to implement and monitor
this policy directive. Additionally, my administration will encourage local
banks to lend to the private sector for agricultural purposes.

8. To increase food crop production, my administration will (i) improve
the seed bank system to attract reliable private sector players (ii) support
the private sector for large scale agricultural production, processing and
marketing (iii) support local industries engaged in the fabrication of farm
tools and supply for other farm inputs (iv) put mechanisms in place for
public and private partnership in tractor management and (v) rehabilitate
feeder roads linking farming communities to markets.

10. Mr. Speaker, cash crop constitutes a major source of foreign
exchange earnings and job creation. My administration will focus on (i)
providing support for rehabilitation of existing plantations and
establishment of new ones (ii) adopting the use of improved varieties of
cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm and non-traditional cash crops (iii) facilitating
the establishment of cash crop cooperatives and providing training in
processing to ensure our cash crops become competitive for export.
Marine Resources

11. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, Sierra Leone’s fisheries
resources are estimated to worth over US$100 million annually. The sector
provides direct employment to about 200,000 people and indirect
employment to an estimated 600,000 persons along coastlines in Freetown,
Kambia, Port Loko, Moyamba and Pujehun. The sector contributes nearly
10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

12. The critical challenges in the sector are the illegal, unreported
and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the limited accessibility to the
international market. As a result, the total annual revenue loss to Sierra
Leone is estimated at over US$ 50 million. The overall policy objective of
my New Direction administration is to create a profitable fisheries sector
that contributes significantly to socio-economic development through
sustainable management and utilisation of our fisheries resources while
also conserving the environment. My administration will focus on (i)
improving marine resource governance and sustainable management of
fisheries (ii) reducing illegal fishing (iii) improving the quality of marine
products and (iv) developing fishing infrastructure.

13. To improve on governance in the sector, the priorities of my
administration will be on (i) strengthening policy and regulatory framework
for the management of marine resources and (ii) promoting transparency
by publicising all fisheries management information such as the revenues,
license fees, vessels committing infractions and fines paid by vessels.

14. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members of Parliament, it is a necessity
that we reduce illegal fishing if we are to increase revenue from the fishing
sector. Therefore, the focus of my Government in this regard will be on (i)
establishing an enabling legal and regulatory environment for combating
illegal fishing and (ii) implementing effective and sustainable surveillance
systems.

15. My administration will also take the following measures to promote
the attractiveness of our fish products to European Market (i) training in
basic hygiene practices and sanitary operating procedures (ii) rehabilitating
existing laboratories for improving fish quality and (iii) strengthening the
capacity of the competent authority to certify fish and fishery products for
export. Additionally, to improve on the infrastructure for fisheries
development, my administration will (i) construct a fish harbor with solarpowered
cold chain facilities and (ii) construct or rehabilitate existing fish
landing sites.

16. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, retailing of fish products is
largely the business of women. Accordingly, my administration will facilitate
micro-finance support for women engaged in fisheries.

Tourism
17. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, despite its high potential for
tourism development, the tourism sector remains one of the most
underdeveloped and underfunded sectors of the economy. The critical
challenges include lack of a Master Plan for the development of the sector,
weak policy and regulatory framework, limited human capacity, poor,
infrastructure as well as unfavourable country image.

18. In the New Direction, the strategic objective is to increase revenue,
provide jobs and promote the cultural heritage of the country. The specific
policy actions will cover (i) improving the policy and legal environment (ii)
developing historic sites (iii) developing the relevant Infrastructure (iv)
promoting marketing and improving the International Image (v) skills
development and (vi) diversification of tourism products.

19. Specifically, improving policy and legal environment will entail
reviewing and upgrading all tourism-related laws, regulations and policies
to ensure consistency with regional and global best practices, developing a
master plan for the tourism sector and establishing a Tourism Information
Register (TIR).

20. My administration will rehabilitate and develop historic and
cultural sites, establish Public-Private Partnership to manage historic sites,
designate tourist attraction areas and provide them with the needed
infrastructure including water, electricity and communications and develop
tourist infrastructure (such as beach resorts, eco villages and research
camps).

21. In the area of promoting marketing and improving the international
image of Sierra Leone, my administration will (i) develop an improved web
portal for tourism promotions (ii) participate in international tourist activities
and (iii) collaborate with our Embassies/Missions to showcase the tourist
potentials of Sierra Leone to the outside world.

22. In developing skills in tourism, my administration will conduct
skills audit of the tourism sector, prepare a Labour Force Development
Plan for the Tourism Sector, upgrade the existing training school for hotel
management, support private colleges pursing tourism-related disciplines
in terms of materials, equipment and staffing and introduce higher
education programmes for tourism training.

23. Diversification of tourism products will include adventure tours
such as safaris, jungle tours, mountain trekking and support local
entrepreneurs to promote tourism-based activities to link with the rural
economy, harvest seasons, wildlife, farming practices, art, culture and
religions.

Mineral Resources
24. The mining sector contributes about 24 percent to GDP and over
80 percent to export earnings. However, it contributes well below its
potential, on average of 15 percent of total revenue. Direct and indirect
employment in large-scale mines engage over 30,000 people, with an
estimated 300,000 people (including dependents and extended families)
deriving their livelihoods from these mines.

25. The mining sector suffers from extreme lack of transparency and
weak institutional capacity. The 2009 Mines and Minerals Act was enacted
to regulate the industry. There are however huge gaps which serve as
disincentives to serious investors.

26. Mr. Speaker, my New Direction Government will immediately
embark on the following (i) review the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 as well
as Mining Lease Agreements to realign with the Mining Policy and ensure
it is consistent with international best practices (ii) enact the Extractive
Industry Revenue Bill (iii) establish the Natural Resources Account for all
revenues generated from extractives (iv) strengthen the National Minerals
Agency (NMA) (v) allocate percentages of revenue from the mining sector to
education, health and the general development of mining communities
(vi) ensure full transparency in the sector through complying with the
Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards and provide
updated and validated information on tax and other contributions from
the mining sector to the government (vii) support value additions to our
mineral resources with a view to generating jobs and additional income to
Sierra Leoneans (viii) ensure that all mining companies comply with the
local content policy and (ix) enforce corporate social responsibility in all
mining activities.

Improving the Management of Oil and Gas Exploration
27. Oil and gas exploration in Sierra Leone has had a very chequered
history. From 2009 to 2013, Sierra Leone drilled three successful
exploration wells and one highly prospective appraisal well. By 2015, due
to undisclosed reasons, all operating oil and gas companies in Sierra Leone,
except African Petroleum, had backed out of their contractual commitments
and abandoned their operations.

28. Mr. Speaker, in the New Direction, the primary objective is to use
oil and gas development to generate wealth without compromising
environmental protection and sustainability. Accordingly, the focus will be
on (i) Oil and Gas Governance (ii) Petroleum Fiscal Regime and (iii) Capacity
Building.

29. Hence, on oil and gas governance, the focus of my administration
will be on (i) reviewing policies and laws on oil and gas to be guided by a
clear vision (ii) investing in geological data acquisition and strengthen prequalification
criteria and ensure transparency to attract the best oil and
gas companies (iii) simplifying both negotiations and tax structures to
mitigate knowledge asymmetries with oil companies to reap early revenues
and maximize long-term national benefits.

30. Regarding improving fiscal regime, as in the case of mining, my
Government will enact the Extractive Industry Revenue Bill. In terms of
capacity building, my Government will restructure the Petroleum
Directorate by recruiting trained and qualified Sierra Leoneans without
reference to their ethnic or regional origin.

Developing the Manufacturing Sector
31. Currently, the manufacturing sector is dominated by informal
small and medium-scale enterprises and a few formal consumer goods
industries producing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cement, paint,
flour, fruit juice, textiles and apparel, handicrafts and furniture. The
contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP is very minimal at about
2 percent of GDP.

32. The main challenges in the manufacturing sector are weak
infrastructure, unfavourable business environment, limited access to
finance, limited skilled workforce and unreliable supply of raw materials.
The focus of manufacturing industrialisation will be on value addition to
agricultural products through agro-processing, consumer and intermediate
goods and high potential job creating industries. The specific policy actions
will focus on (i) improving manufacturing infrastructure including cost
effective energy sources, transport network and technology (ii) improving
the environment for manufacturing industrialization (iii) establishing
Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Export Processing Zones (EPZ) (iv)
providing finance to local entrepreneurs for manufacturing industrialisation
(v) technical skills development (vi) promoting manufacturing industries
producing farm implements, schools materials and medical supplies and
(vii) promoting the production of agricultural activities.

Fiscal Situation
33. There has been persistent fiscal imbalance with government
expenditure far exceeding revenue. This is largely due to the bloated public
spending against the background of shrinking domestic revenue. Our
domestic revenue make up only 11.5 percent of GDP and is one of the
lowest in the World.

34. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my Government is determined
to reverse this deplorable situation. Within the first month in office and in
fulfilment of Manifesto commitment, my Government has taken
extraordinary measures to mobilise revenue and control expenditure. On
revenue mobilisation, my administration has instituted the following three
measures (i) suspended all duty and tax waivers to organizations, agencies,
companies and contractors excepting organisations that fall under the
relevant Vienna Convention on diplomatic missions (ii) in fulfilment of my
Government commitment to the Treasury Single Account (TSA), directed
Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government that collect and retain
Government revenues to transfer all such revenues into the Consolidated
Revenue Fund with immediate effect consistent with the provisions of the
Fiscal Management and Control Act 2017 and (iii) export of Timber logs is
suspended with immediate effect.

35. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am pleased to inform you
that there has been an unprecedented surge in domestic revenue
mobilisation resulting from these measures. For the period, 11th April to
date, a total amount exceeding Le300 billion has been collected. I am also
pleased to report that my administration paid salaries for April and arrears
to educational institutions without recourse to central bank overdraft.
Furthermore, in the bid to reduce fiscal deficit, my Government has further
instituted stringent expenditure control measures as articulated in

Executive Order Number 2.
36. It is anticipated that both the revenue mobilisation and
expenditure control measures will expand on the fiscal space needed to
finance our development programme and pay for our essential services.
My administration will review these measures in the next few months to
ensure they sustain revenue gains without undermining private sector
investment. Already, my Government has established a Committee to review
duty and tax exemptions, consistent with existing legislations.

37. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my administration will
institute the following additional revenue mobilisation measures (i) evaluate
the on-going tax reforms (ii) implement all audit reports findings and
recommendations (iii) develop and legislate a National Tax Policy (iv) develop
the capacity of local councils, particularly the city councils in revenue
assessment and collection (v) simplify processes and reduce transaction
cost for clearing imported goods (vi) enforce tax laws especially rental income
taxation and ensure timely settlement of all tax obligations.

38. My Government will also implement the following additional
expenditure control measures (i) develop and introduce a standardized
overseas travel policy for the public service and covering all categories of
workers including Government Ministers (ii) develop the capacity of the
Ministries, Departments and Agencies in expenditure planning,
management and reporting (iii) strengthen Audit Service Sierra Leone and
the involvement of Non-State Actors in monitoring public spending (iv)
develop a Vehicle Pool and movement tracking system (v) re-establish the
authority of the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the primary authority
to recruit civil servants (vi) harmonize the wage structure in the public
sector to keep the wage bill sustainable and (vii) develop a National
Development Monitoring and Evaluation System.

Public Debt Management
39. The current debt situation is unsustainable and constitutes a
critical risk to effective budget management. As at March 31, 2018, external
debts stood at US$ 2 billion and domestic debts at Le 4.9 trillion (US$
636.4 million). Repayment and servicing of these huge debt burden means
that there is hardly any resources left to finance priority investments in
human capital development and basic services. In the New Direction, my
administration will (i) introduce the practice of annual debt ceilings beyond
which Government cannot borrow and link the borrowing ceiling to a clearly
laid out medium-term debt management strategy (ii) limit external financing
of social services to grants (iii) reform the institutional and legal framework
for accessing external and domestic debts for the central government, local
governments, and parastatals (iv) establish a Sierra Leone Sovereign Wealth
Fund to build up a modest surplus of domestic savings.

Exchange Rate Management
40. The New Direction exchange rate management strategic objective
is to maintain a stable and competitive exchange rate through increasing
exports and reducing imports of consumer goods. The specific policies are
(a) review of existing policy framework for supporting cash crop production
and marketing (b) improve supportive marketing infrastructure and facilities
and (c) promote agro-processing to add value to farm products for exports.

Monetary Policy
41. The main objective of my administration’s monetary policy is to
achieve single digit inflation and realistic interest rate. My Government
will therefore consolidate public finances to reduce high level domestic
borrowing which will free up resources for private sector lending at
affordable cost.

Private Sector Development
42. My administration will promote competitive, fast-growing and
liberal economy led by the private sector. Evidence from the World Bank
Doing Business Report and the Global Competitiveness Report shows
Sierra Leone is relatively uncompetitive. According to World Bank Doing

Business Report, Sierra Leone dropped in ranking for ease of doing
business from 140 out of 185 in 2012 to 145 out of 190 in 2016 and
further to 148 out of 190 in 2017. Similarly, the Global Competitiveness
Report ranked Sierra Leone 133 out of 134 countries surveyed in 2012.
Subsequent ranking did not change significantly and stood at 132 out of
138 countries surveyed.

44. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my Government will ensure
that Sierra Leoneans are given priority in many businesses and employment
without compromising efficiency. Companies will be required to provide
the necessary training for Sierra Leoneans and review their procurement
and employment rules to ensure this is achieved. Specifically, the focus
will be on (i) increasing access to finance (ii) reducing the cost of doing
business (iii) promoting local entrepreneurship (iv) capacity building and
(v) developing the infrastructure.

45. Some specific policy actions for increasing access to finance will
cover (i) introducing a partial guarantee scheme to provide loans to high
private sector entities and (ii) establishing Funds to provide access to
medium and long-term capital to support Small and Medium Enterprises
(SMEs) for women and youth.

46. In terms of reducing the cost and risks of doing business, my
administration will (i) review all policies and laws governing business and
update them in line with best practice (ii) broaden and deepen regulatory
reforms in areas such as labour laws, property registration and licensing
procedures (iii) sustain stable and competitive macro-economic environment
(iv) review licensing procedures (v) capacitate the fast track commercial
courts to reduce the time and cost of enforcing commercial contracts and
(vi) provide mechanisms for low-cost alternative dispute resolution.

47. My administration will also promote local entrepreneurship
through reviewing and implementing the Local Content Act to give
preference to Sierra Leoneans in the award of contracts and employment.
My Government will withdraw fiscal incentives from companies that do not
comply with employment and local content laws.

Strengthening the Financial Sector
48. The financial sector is critical for any economic development. It
pools and allocates resources to promote productivity and economic growth.
Currently, there are 14 licensed functional banks in Sierra Leone. Only
one of these (Sierra Leone Commercial Bank) is solely owned and another
(Rokel Commercial Bank) is partly owned by the Government of Sierra
Leone. One is entirely owned by Sierra Leoneans and all others are foreign
dominated banks. These foreign dominated banks control 75% of financial
sector assets.

49. Some of the challenges in the banking sector include weaknesses
in the central bank, particularly in the area of banking regulation and
supervision; weak infrastructure; weak policy and legal environment;
inadequate bank coordination; shortage of skilled professionals; insufficient
technological resources; a weak interbank market; the lack of payments
mechanisms; absence of credit-risk information; inadequate short-term
financial markets; absence of longer-term finance and foreign currency
lending and ignorance of banking products and procedures.

50. My Government’s efforts to developing the financial sector will
entail developing a strong, sound and effective banking system that will
increase access to both short-term and long-term capital for investment
purposes. My New Direction administration’s efforts will focus on (i)
capacitating Bank of Sierra Leone (ii) strengthening commercial banks
(iii) developing Micro-Finance Institutions (iv) commencing actions towards
a re-establishing of a Development Bank and (v) strengthening Non-Bank
Financial Institutions.

Human Development
51. Mr. Speaker, the New Direction recognises that human
development is both a means and an end to development. Human capital
development covers improving education and developing skills, improving
health care, protecting the poor and vulnerable population groups.

Improving Education and Skills Training
52. The primary objective of the New Direction is to increase access
to quality pre-primary, primary, secondary, technical and vocational
education and training as well as university education that will enable
them engage in meaningful productive economic activity. To demonstrate
our commitment to education, my Government will increase and sustain
budgetary allocation to education to a minimum of 20% of the national
budget.

53. The change in the education system from 6-3-3-4 to 6-3-4-4 is
challenging. The existing classroom blocks and teachers are not adequate
to meet the needs of pupils for an additional year of schooling. This change
in the educational system has also impacted on teenage pregnancy and
early school leaving among girls who consider the number of years of
schooling to be too many. There is no evidence to show that it has improved
learning outcomes. Rather, it has imposed pressure on Government for
additional classrooms and promoted teenage pregnancy. In fulfillment of
my Manifesto commitment, we shall revert to the 6-3-3-4 system of
education. The relevant authorities will advise when it will be best for this
change to be effective. To improve on the system, My Government intends
to increase contact hours, build additional classrooms, eliminate the twoshift
system and develop technical and vocational education.

54. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am pleased to officially
pronounce that effective next academic year starting September 2018, my
Government will introduce Free Education from primary level to senior
secondary school as promised. I have already engaged many of our partners
for support of this programme and I am pleased to report that, our
international and donor partners have expressed commitments to support
my administration. To ensure effective coordination of support of this
programme, Government will establish a Multi-Partner Education for
Development Basket Fund. In support of this, two Committees will be
established. First, a High Level Inter-Ministerial and Partners Group (IMPG)
on Free Education comprising of relevant ministries and partners will be
set up. This Group will provide the strategic guidance to the planning and
design of the programme, mobilise resources and oversee the
implementation. Second, a Technical Group (TG) on Education comprising
professionals from the relevant MDAs and partner agencies will be
established to design the programme, coordinate and monitor the
implementation. The Technical Group will report to the High Level InterMinisterial
and Partners Group.

55. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, improving education
governance is critical for the success of the New Direction in education. To
this end, my Government will (i) review the Education Sector Plan to ensure
it is realigned with the priorities of the New Direction (ii) strengthen
Education Management and Information System (EMIS) to support informed
strategic decision-making (iii) develop a robust policy and legal framework
for Public-Private-Partnership in the education sector (iv) develop the
capacity of School Inspectorate for effective school monitoring and
supervision (v) build the capacity of School Management Committees (SMC)
(vi) de-politicise the Board of Governors of schools, redefine their roles,
and introduce a compulsory reporting requirement (vii) respect and support
the autonomy of the National Union of Students (NUSS) and (viii) promote
social dialogue with relevant stakeholders in the education service delivery
including the Sierra Leone Teachers Union.

56. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, none of us would have been
here today without our greatest asset, teachers. Yet, they have been least
recognized and least rewarded. This is demotivating. Let me simply state
that without qualified teachers, our Free Education Programme will not be
fully implemented. In the New Direction, Government will raise the morale
and productivity of our teachers. To this end, I hereby pronounce a
Presidential Initiative for Teachers. The Initiative will ensure that matters
relating to teachers are treated with utmost importance. Additionally, my
administration will (i) review and make functional the Teaching Service
Commission (ii) develop a special incentive scheme for Science and French
teachers as well as teachers in remote areas and those in special needs
institutions (iii) introduce THE BEST TEACHER Award Scheme for the most
innovative, ingenious and dedicated teachers at national and district levels
(iv) provide free university education for three children of every school
teacher with at least 10 years’ teaching experience.

57. There is limited number of qualified teachers at all levels. Only
55 percent of teachers at pre-school level, 42 percent at primary level, 35
percent at Junior Secondary School, 49% at Senior Secondary School, are
qualified to teach. Increasing the number of qualified teachers and ensuring
fair distribution amongst districts is critical for the successful
implementation of our Free Education Programme. In support of this, my
administration will establish Teacher Training campuses in all districts,
expand and improve on distance learning education for teachers and provide
free tuition for teacher education.

58. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the amounts of public
spending on fee subsidy for university education is unsustainable. Whilst
we will improve on the management of the Grants-in-Aid policy, my
administration will introduce Students Loan Scheme that will provide loans
to deserving students to access higher education.

59. Mr. Speaker, Free Education will increase demand for school. As
a progressive Government, we need to prepare for the anticipated increase
in school enrolment. Therefore, my administration will adopt a policy of
One-Administrative Section-One Primary School, One-Electoral Ward-One
Junior Secondary School and One-Electoral Constituency-One-Senior
Secondary School. Additionally, my Government will construct new
classroom blocks in urban towns to reduce congestion in schools and
eventually eliminate the two-shift system in the next few years.

60. To sustain high school enrolment and improve learning, my
administration will work with World Food Programme and other food
agencies as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to expand
school feeding programmes in all public assisted primary schools.

61. The cost of transportation constitutes a major share of urban
household expenditure on education. This high cost of urban transportation
causes lateness and affect school attendance which further affect learning.
My Government will re-introduce school bus system in large urban towns
on a cost recovery basis and less than the prevailing market price.

62. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the high level of adult
illiteracy in Sierra Leone estimated at 60 percent is unacceptable in any
progressive nation. As part of my commitment to education, my
administration will work with partners to develop and implement cost
effective strategies for providing basic literacy and numeracy training for
our adults who were not fortunate to attend school. Some of these will
include (i) initially establishing one functional adult literacy centre in every
district and later expanding to every chiefdom using existing school facilities
and (ii) integrating literacy programmes into agricultural and livelihood
programmes.

63. The New Direction believes that training is the foundation for
enhancing the country’s competitiveness. To this end, my Government
will (i) review and standardise the curriculum and certification for Technical
and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) (ii) develop a national
apprenticeship scheme which can provide internship for trainees of TVET
institutes and at the same time provide direct training for youth and (iii)
develop a robust Public-Private-Partnership framework to increase private
sector participation in TVET training. Also, my Government will establish
in every district capital one Polytechnic Institution that will be fully
equipped with modern tools and equipment for technical vocational
education and training in areas with high potential for job creation.

64. Mr. Speaker, the conditions of our institutions of higher learning
and in particular the citadel of knowledge, University of Sierra Leone and
Njala University are deplorable. We have lost the glory of being the Athens
of West Africa. We require urgent actions to develop our Universities and
all other higher institutions. Already, my Government has created a
separate Ministry of Technical and Higher Education that will solely focus
on technical and higher education. My intention is to establish a university
system that employs its own leadership as chancellors and Vice Chancellors
with distinguished and proven records of higher education leadership and
significant international clout and contacts (funding and research
networks). In this light, effective 2019, I as President will cease to be the
Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone. In the coming months, the
2005 Universities Act will be reviewed to reflect this and many other changes
where necessary.

65. Science and Technology is the bedrock for the development of
any modern economy. Unfortunately, in Sierra Leone, the schools and
colleges lack even the basic facilities for scientific research. My Government
is setting up a Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation to develop
a framework for scientific research. Initially, this Directorate will be midwifed
in the Office of the President but shall work closely with the Ministry of
Technical and Higher Education.

66. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, one of the reasons for
attitudinal challenges is limited civic education among the population.
This is compounded by mass illiteracy among the population. If we are to
develop as a nation, we must educate our people on rights, responsibilities
and obligations as good citizens. To this end, my Government will launch a
National Civic Education Programme to provide civic education in our
educational institutions and communities. Additionally, my administration
will direct that civics be re-introduced in our schools and colleges,
comprehensive curriculum for all levels will be developed and civic educators
be provided training to cascade the training in schools.
Health

67. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, life
expectancy in 2015 was estimated at 50 years compared to 53 in
neighbouring Liberia and 59 in Guinea. According to the Demographic
and Health Survey (2008), infant mortality rate increased from 89 per
1,000 in 2008 to 92 per 1,000 in 2013 and under-five mortality rose from
140 per 1,000 in 2008 to 156 in 2013. Maternal mortality was 1,165 per
100,000 live births in 2013 compared to 857 in 2008. WHO even estimated
maternal mortality at 1,360 per 100,000 live births and puts Sierra Leone
as least on the child survival league table. Two (2) out of every five (5)
maternal deaths is due to teenage pregnancy.

68. The figures above indicate that the Free Health Care launched in
2010 has not created the desired impact. There are still reports of leakages
in the distribution of drugs, limited manpower to provide health care and
poor incentive for the limited staff and probably wrong entry point to reduce
mortality among children and mothers. Despite the health system
strengthening efforts under the Post-Ebola Recovery Strategy, healthcare
services delivery remains gloomy. The health sector continues to be plagued
by limited public investment and untimely disbursement, weak human
resource base, weaknesses in disease prevention, control and surveillance,
poor service delivery and poor governance.

69. The strategic objective of the health sector in the New Direction
is to transform the under-resourced, ill-equipped, dysfunctional and
inadequate health infrastructure and healthcare delivery system to make
it high quality, efficient, reliable, cost-effective, affordable and sustainable.
The thrust of the New Direction is increasing access for all the population
(particularly mothers, children and the elderly) to quality health services
in an equitable and efficient manner. The focus will be on (i) health
governance (ii) health financing (iii) human resource (iv) free health care
(v) disease prevention and control and (vi) service delivery.

70. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my administration will
implement the following (i) strengthen Health Management and Information
System (HMIS) to support informed strategic decision-making, planning
and programme development, monitoring and coordination (ii) develop a
robust policy and legal framework for Public-Private-Partnership in the
health sector (iii) review laws and policies relating to regulatory bodies
such as the Medical and Dental Association and make them more functional
(iv) promote dialogue with relevant stakeholders in the health sector
including but not limited to the Sierra Leone Health Service Workers Union,
the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association and the Nurses and
Midwives Association.

71. If we are to reverse the appalling statistics in the health sector,
we need to increase both public and private investment in the sector.
Accordingly, my Government will take the following measures (i) raise the
current public spending on health and sanitation from its current level of
less than 10 percent to 15 percent as required by the Abuja Declaration
and ensure timely disbursement of allocated resources (ii) review and
implement the National Health Insurance Scheme (iii) strengthen the
management and coordination of all resources allocated to the health sector
and effectively track all donor resources to the sector and (iv) develop publicprivate
sector framework for health care service delivery.

72. Our health care workers constitute the most important input in
the sector. Specific action will include (i) strengthening Health Service
Commission and developing a comprehensive Human Development Plan
that would ensure the immediate absorption of trained health workers in
the public service (ii) improving on the conditions of health workers for all
categories to attract and retain them (iv) developing special incentive scheme
for trained medical doctors and health workers working in remote areas.

73. The figures above also indicate that the Free Health Care launched
in 2010 has not created the desired impact. There are still reports of
leakages in the distribution of drugs. To address this malaise, my
Government will strengthen national, district and community-based
monitoring of free health care drugs and services.

74. Preventive health care saves costs. Therefore, my administration
will institute cost effective disease prevention measures. Already, we have
re-introduced National Cleaning Day. My administration will closely work
with local councils to strengthen the cleaning, collection and depositing of
garbage. To support regular cleaning exercise, my Government will support
sanitary inspectors under the supervision of local councils.

75. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, Government spends huge
amount of foreign exchange on basic diagnosis of diseases and treatment
of severe ailments overseas. To save cost and increase citizen’s access to
quality health care services, my Government will (i) equip laboratory facilities
in all district hospitals with modern equipment and materials for testing
and x-ray facilities and (ii) provide modern equipment including CT and
MRI scanning and other diagnosis and treatment equipment in all regional
hospitals.

76. Despite the many donations of ambulances during the outbreak
of the Ebola Virus Disease, it is disappointing to note that to date, we do
not have a National Ambulance Service. We still do not have a clear number
of ambulances. In the next few months, my Government will conclude
arrangements for a National Ambulance Service.

77. Mr. Speaker, the New Direction particularly notes the rise in
teenage pregnancy and its calamitous implication for maternal mortality
and the development of our female population. About 15 percent of our
girls have sexual intercourse before 15 years; our adolescent pregnancies
are among the Top 10 countries in the world and about 28 percent of
adolescent women age 15-19 years are already mothers or pregnant and
44 percent of girls are married before 18 years. About 44 percent of
pregnancies below 20 are lost after 7 months of gestation or babies die
within 7 days of life. Teenage pregnancy accounts for 40 percent of maternal
deaths. To address this serious problem, my administration will launch a
National Programme on Sexual and Reproductive Health for adolescents
to reduce teenage pregnancy and the alarming maternal mortality. In
addition, my Government will initiate discussions towards the reintroduction
of Family Life Education in schools.

Youth
78. Sierra Leone’s population is mostly youthful. Youth, that is,
persons 15-35 years, account for about 33 percent of the country’s
population and represent about 67 percent of the economically active
population of which 67 percent are unemployed. Our youth are untrained
and lack the skills required in the job market.

79. Overcoming youth unemployment will be at the centre of our
fight against poverty and our efforts to consolidate peace. In the New
Direction, the youth problem will not only receive our topmost priority,
but will also be viewed as a human development and security challenge. It
is our view that stimulating job creation requires a holistic approach. Our
approach will be integrated and coherent. Specifically, in addition to
scholarship scheme, my Government will (i) develop Technical and
Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to provide technical skills to
youth in areas relevant for the job market as earlier elaborated on Education
and Training (ii) review the current design of the National Youth Service
and support its implementation (iii) establish a special Youth Empowerment
Fund to support youth engaged in small and medium scale entrepreneurial
ventures (iv) promote youth engagement in agriculture through the
provision of direct support in the form of finance, market information,
technology and technical advice to youth (including agricultural graduates)
to engage in commercial agriculture and agro-processing activities.

Music and Performing Arts
80. Mr. Speaker, despite its huge potential to create jobs, past
Governments have done very little to promote music and the performing
arts. Overall, the policy and legal environment is weak. The past Government
legislated the piracy law but failed to put in place the necessary mechanisms
for enforcement. Piracy is still very rampant as the copyrights laws are not
enforced and the infrastructure is not attractive to investors. The National
Dance Troupe which used to be the cultural ambassadors of our nation
has been rendered dysfunctional largely because of their eviction from the
Aberdeen Cultural Village. There are limited studios for music and film
production and no auditorium for musical shows and screening of films.
Low private investment in music and the performing arts is due to a
combination of factors including the weak policy and legal environment,
particularly the seditious libel law. In addition, training in music and the
performing arts is not done by most schools and colleges.

81. To promote music and performing arts, my Government will (i)
review and enforce the copyright laws (ii) review policies and establish
standards for promotion of music and performing arts (iii) establish a
National Arts Gallery and Theatre for Performing Arts (iv) promote Sierra
Leonean music and musicians nationally and internationally and maintain
good business ethics in the industry (v) re-establish and develop cultural
village.

Sports
82. There has been a dramatic decline in sports over the past decade.
The critical challenge facing sports development include weak policy and
legal environment, and constant crisis in the Sierra Leone Football
Association (SLFA) largely because of political interference. For many years
now, we cannot even organise national competitions in football and athletics
and there has been virtual elimination of physical education in schools.
Consequently, Sierra Leone has not qualified for any major international
sporting competition in recent years.

83. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my Government will (i) review
the policy and legal environment for sports development (ii) increase
budgetary support to sporting activities, football, athletics, cricket, volley
ball and basketball (iii) establish a Sports Development Fund that will be
financed from various sources including corporate establishments and
international sporting organisations and Government (iv) develop and
implement a comprehensive capacity building programme for all sporting
disciplines (v) reactivate school and community sporting activities with a
view to identifying and developing talents for national and international
competitions (vi) recommence national competition for all sporting activities.
Women

84. Women account for 51 percent of the population and face major
challenges in their communities to access justice, social and economic
opportunities and seek their overall advancement. Specifically, the
challenges of women include (a) gender-based violence (b) barriers to
women’s economic empowerment, especially in terms of access to markets,
training, finance, infrastructure, technology, education, counseling and
entrepreneurship development (c) exploitative or hazardous forms of the
livelihood of poor, unskilled women and girls, especially commercial sex
workers (d) inadequate sensitisation and education on gender and
development issues and (e) low political participation as a result of sociocultural,
educational, legal and policy environment and economic factors.

85. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in the New Direction, my
government will promote gender equality, equity, empowerment, and the
protection of the rights of women either as mainstreamed interventions or
as stand-alone initiatives. Our specific actions will be to (i) provide training
and educational opportunities for our women (ii) establish a Women’s
Development Fund to support female entrepreneurs (iii) promote women
in agriculture through direct support to them for farming and agroprocessing
activities (iv) provide improved facilities for fish processing and
poultry, and promoting female access to land and other strategic resources
(v) transform the Gender Directorate into National Commission for Gender
Affairs.

Persons Living with Disability and our Aged
86. The most disadvantaged group in Sierra Leone is the physically
challenged. Although the last Parliament enacted the Disability Bill, no
concrete action was taken by the out-going Government to provide basic
services to persons living with disability or even implement the provisions
of the Act. To date, the basic structures for implementing the Act are weak.
Government budgetary allocation is low and actual disbursements are not
regular. Additionally, support by NGOs is limited and restricted to provincial
capitals.

87. In the New Direction, the SLPP government will (i) review and
implement policies and laws relating to disability, especially making public
facilities disability friendly (ii) review and improve incentives for Teachers
in Special Needs Institutions (iii) provide free health care for the physically
challenged and the aged (iv) provide livelihood support to persons living
with disability for economic empowerment.
Children

88. Government recognises that childhood is a one-time opportunity
for physical, mental, emotional and social development. Some of the critical
child protection issues identified in the New Direction are sexual based
violence, teenage pregnancy, early and forced marriage, child trafficking
and child labour.

89. In the New Direction, my Government will ensure a Child-First
approach for the survival, protection and development of children, including
those living with disability and vulnerable children. Specifically, my
administration will implement policy actions and programmes to address
(i) sexual violence (ii) teenage pregnancy (iii) child marriage (iv) orphans
and vulnerable children (v) child trafficking and (vi) child labour and juvenile
justice.

90. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my administration will embark
on the following child protection measures (i) review and increase budgetary
resources for the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 (ii)
increase the capacity of the Family Support Unit, the Ministry of Justice
and the judiciary to investigate and prosecute reported cases (iii) strengthen
protection, rehabilitation and reintegration support for victims of sexual
abuse (iv) design and launch a national programme on Adolescents and
Sexual and Reproductive Health (v) increase opportunities for pregnant
girls and teenage mothers to have access to education (vi) design policies,
harmonise and standardise laws to combat child marriage (vii) develop a
national strategy to combat child marriage and (viii) review and enforce
laws relating to adoption, child trafficking, child labour and juvenile justice.

Our Workers
91. The most valuable asset of any nation is its workforce. A nation
needs a workforce that is well motivated for the transformation of the natural
resources to wealth. Over 65 percent of Sierra Leone’s working population
representing nearly 2 million people participate in the labour market and
women participate almost as men.

92. Employment laws and regulations are not only weak but their
implementation is also undermined. The institutional framework for the
issuing of work permits exposes our potential workforce to unhealthy
competition from other nationals who are usually put on better terms and
conditions. The enforcement of our labour laws is weak. For instance, the
provision that firms should only resort to foreign workers in the absence of
qualified Sierra Leoneans is undermined with impunity. Most big industrial
companies do not have medical and health insurance policies and where
they exist they are of the barest standards. Core labour standards that
emphasize the rules and principles regarding the minimum standards
recognised internationally for treating workers have been violated. These
labour standards are fundamental principles that protect basic human
rights of the workforce.

93. Minimum wage has not only been low, but incomparable to living
standards. Successive Governments have failed to enact or enforce the
necessary laws and policies or respect international standards to overcome
most of these challenges. There are hundreds of foreigners in positions
that can otherwise be filled by Sierra Leoneans. Illegal dismissals without
benefits are common.

The pension scheme of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust
(NASSIT) which was set up in 2001 is seriously challenged. The misuse of
the pension fund; non-payment of contributions by both government and
private employers; wrong investment decisions of the pension fund; nonreporting
of dividends, if any, from investment of the pension fund and the
politicisation and poor leadership of the Trust are now the norm.

94. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in the New Direction
Government will adopt a Sierra Leonean First Policy wherein the interest
of Sierra Leoneans will be paramount. My Government will (i) review and
implement the Local Content Act (ii) review existing mechanisms issuing
and enforcing work permits (iii) review all laws, regulations and agreements
to ensure that apart from statutory social security benefits, employers have
in place medical and insurance policies consistent with international best
practice (iv) establish a Minimum Wage Board comprising Government
agencies and private agencies with the primary responsibility of setting
minimum wage at regular intervals (v) capacitate the Ministry of Labour to
enable it to monitor and enforce the labour laws, policies and regulations
effectively (vi) conduct a comprehensive systems audit entailing financial,
procurement, technical and management audits and an audit of all its
investments with a view to restructuring NASSIT and making it more effective
and efficient and (vii) review the NASSIT Act and restructure the institution
to make it more efficient and effective for achieving its objectives.

Energy Supply
95. Sierra Leone is among one of the least developed countries in the
World in terms of power infrastructure. In the entire country, power
generation and supply still falls below 100Megawatt (MW) with less than
50 MW coming from the Bumbuna Hydro Electric Power Station in the
North, 6MW from Dodo in the East and 2 MW from Charlotte in the West.

96. The existing energy supplies, especially electricity, are delivered
at very high cost. There has been little transparency in the operation and
management of the sector. The poor transmission and distribution network
cause huge power losses and compounded by low and irregular voltage
continue to impact negatively on reliability, causing damage to personal
equipment. In 2007, the out-going Government started with Independent
Power Producers (IPP) for the supply of electricity using thermal plants at
over bloated costs. To date, we still rely on high cost IPPs. Power stations in
most of Sierra Leone are non-functional. Overall, the entire sector is ridden
with inefficiency and corruption. Preliminary estimates of Government’s
liabilities in the electricity sector exceed over Le 500 billion indicating the
poor electricity management.

97. Mr. Speaker, my Government’s strategic objective in the energy
sector is to increase population access to cost effective electricity supply.
My Government will (i) conduct technical audit of the energy sector (ii)
undertake robust reform in the energy sector (iii) restore electricity supply
to all district capitals and (iv) invest in low cost renewable energy potential
of the country in the areas of solar, hydro, wind and biomass.
Transport

98. It is estimated by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority and the African
Development Bank that Sierra Leone has about 11,300 Kilometres roads
of which less than 10 percent are paved. Traditionally, infrastructure
development and implementation world-wide and particularly in Africa
including Sierra Leone has been based on sector specific development
with no coherence and relationship to other sectors. For example, road
construction in Sierra Leone has never included other sectors and for the
most part other transport modes. The culture of intermodal development
is seldom embraced. Thus, the utility and full benefits of the roads
constructed are limited and never realized. Along all the corridors or
alignments of the roads constructed in Sierra Leone, there are no other
new or refurbished transport modes nor are there any new sector
development that will capitalise and take full advantage of the new road
constructed. Therefore, the full benefits or the utility of the road constructed
are very limited and not fully realized, thus negating the economic and
financial value of the investment. This does not unlock economic
opportunities and create jobs.

99. The conditions of arterial and feeder roads are very deplorable.
Cost of construction of a kilometer of road funded by past Government is
the highest in the world. The quality of the roads constructed is poor and
implementation very shoddy. Overall, corruption has marred road
construction. In addition, co-ordination is weak among departments involved
in public works to the extent that telecommunications and electricity cables
and water pipelines have been destroyed during road construction.

100. Political meddling by the then Ministry of Works, Housing and
Technical Maintenance with the operations of the Sierra Leone Roads
Authority (SLRA) led to the loss of independence and objectivity in the
handling of the affairs of the Authority. Poor governance continuously afflicts
the management and sustainability of the Road Maintenance Fund.

101. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my administration will plan,
develop and implement infrastructure in Sierra Leone on an integrated,
holistic and cross-sectoral development basis. In addition, full utilization
will be made of inter-modal transport development. Whenever a new road
is constructed, provisions will be made to ensure that along the same road
corridor or alignment, there is a pipeline for fibre optic to improve
Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) connectivity or a pipeline
for water to provide clean drinking water, transmission lines to transmit
electricity to provide power and adequate electricity. Specifically, my
administration will (i) promote and implement a holistic integrated
infrastructure that will maximize the utility and effectiveness of
infrastructure, thereby greatly contributing to the overall socio-economic
development of the country regardless of region (ii) conduct a technical
audit of all roads completed or under construction to ascertain the technical
integrity and value for money (iii) address the current traffic congestion in
Freetown not only by the construction of new roads but also by employing
proven and practical traffic engineering mitigation measures (iv) complete
all ongoing road projects including townships roads and (v) commence the
planning and construction of the Bo-Mattru Road, Mano Junction-Bumpeh
(Kono) Road, Bo-Matotoka Road, Moyamba-Yagoi-Mattru Road and KenemaZimmi
Road (vi) devolve maintenance of township roads and feeder roads
to local councils and (vii) reform the management of the Road Maintenance
Fund Administration (RMFA).

102. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my Government will establish
a Presidential Infrastructure Initiative to support my office in the selection,
design, planning and management of roads projects, mobilise resources
and provide implementation support.

Air Transportation
103. International connectivity is served by Lungi International Airport
(passengers and light freight). Over 200,000 passengers pass through Lungi
yearly. Overall, the runways, taxi ways and aprons are fairly good but need
repairs. According to report of International Civil Aviation Organisation
(ICAO), Sierra Leone is at 20 percent compliance in terms of safety, which
is far below the 60 percent safety threshold set by African Ministers
responsible for Aviation in Abuja commonly referred to as the "Abuja Safety
Targets". Enforcement of regulations by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
continues to be weak. The CAA is not economically sustainable given its
inability to generate revenue and its low level of competency and capability.

104. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in the New Direction, my
Government will work in consonance with the ECOWAS Vision 2020 to
improve the Air Transport sector by developing a sound and seamless
regional air transport system that is safe, reliable, efficient and affordable,
well connected within West Africa and integrated with the global network.
Specific policy actions will include (i) enhancing global civil aviation safety
by certifying the Freetown International Airport at Lungi to meet
international standards (ii) improving ferry and sea coach services between
Targrin and Freetown to support passenger travel and comfort (iii) enhancing
global civil aviation security and facilitation and (iv) developing an Air
transport master plan to foster the development of a sound and economically
viable civil aviation system.

Sea Transportation
105. Queen Elizabeth II Quay and Kissy Oil terminal as well as the
two ferry terminals constitute the port of Freetown. They constitute major
logistics hub for Sierra Leone’s imports and exports. The Queen Elizabeth
II Quay comprises a multi-purpose terminal (general cargo), break bulk,
containers and bulk and holds 4 berths. With the global trend of
containerization wherein the bulk of cargo will consist of containers, the
current terminal for containers is proving inadequate.

106. Maritime transportation is in a bad state in Sierra Leone today.
The turnaround time for clearing goods at the Port is still high and both
freight costs and clearing costs are prohibitively expensive, impacting on
the retail cost of goods. Some regulatory agencies like the Sierra Leone
Maritime Agency (SLMA) have been found to handle their mandate
inefficiently and need significant reforms.

107. In the New Direction Government strategic objective for sea port
development is to provide a conducive and competitive port facility. To this
end, the specific policy actions shall include (i) instituting policies and
regulations that will help reduce the costs of shipping and clearing goods
(ii) re-organising the Maritime Protection Agency to make it more effective
(iii) conducting a feasibility study to convert the Nitti sea port used by
mining companies into a commercial sea port and (iv) encouraging and
promoting private sector development of inland water transportation services
for passenger and goods as an alternate mode to road transport.

Railway Transportation
108. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members the closure of the railway posed
considerable burden on the economy. It led to massive job losses, created
shortage of farm goods in urban markets leading to high prices and stifled
the rural economy. Regenerating the rural economy will require massive
investment in transportation including railway transportation. In the New
Direction, my administration will conduct appropriate feasibility studies
for the re-institution of a National Railway Scheme.

Water Supply and Improved Sanitation
109. Most of the Sierra Leone population do not have access to safe
drinking water and improved sanitation. Barely half of the population, 43
percent (86 percent in urban areas and 26 percent in rural areas) have
access to safe drinking water and 13 percent have access to improved
sanitation; 24 percent in urban areas and 6 percent in rural areas. Pipe
borne water supply is largely limited to Freetown and rural areas depend
on contaminated surface water. In Freetown, the Guma dam is inadequate
to meet the growing demand. The distribution network is not only poor
but it barely covers three-quarters of the city. Most rural communities
access water from hand-pump wells and a few from gravity system. A
substantial percentage of people even still access water from unprotected
sources including hand-dug wells and polluted rivers and lakes.

110. The management of both garbage and sewage in urban towns,
particularly Freetown, is poor. To date, the institutional arrangements for
city cleaning are weak. Deforestation of the hillsides largely for housing
construction has compounded the problem. With the support of the German
Government, sanitation in the provincial capitals of Bo, Kenema and Makeni
have improved. Most shacks in Freetown do not have access to latrine
facility and the conditions of the sewage pipes are deteriorating. It is not
unusual for human waste to be seen in garbage and streets of Freetown.
Rural sanitation challenges comprise disposing garbage in backyards and
limited access to latrine facilities encourages the bad practice of open
defecation.

111. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the objective of the New
Direction is to increase access of the population to safe drinking water and
improved sanitation. In the new Direction government, a comprehensive
water and sanitation strategic plan will be put in place to guide investment
in the sector and public sector investment will be progressively increased
from its current low level of 3 percent.

112. In the area of provision of water supply, my administration will (i)
commence planning for the construction of new water reservoir for
Freetown and its immediate environs (ii) restore pipe borne water supply
facilities in district capitals (iii) rehabilitate water distribution network in
Freetown and construct stand pipes in deprived communities (iv) construct
boreholes and gravity water supply facilities in hard to reach peri-urban
areas in Western Area and rural areas (v) rehabilitate existing water dams
and protect all major watershed areas against deforestation and other
environmental problems (vi) undertake reforms in the water sector including
unbundling water generation from distribution as it is in the energy sector
to improve on efficiency and cost recovery (vii) strengthen the maintenance
capacity of Guma Valley Water Company and Sierra Leone Water Company
(SALWACO) as well as local councils.

Improving Information, Communications and Technology (ICT)
113. An efficient ICT network improves human life and accelerates
economic development. This includes telephones and computing
equipment, satellite equipment, right down to a regular television and
radio service. Statistics all round the world have proved that countries that
take ICT seriously develop faster than others and have improved
competitiveness.

114. The young generation is yearning for new opportunities to interact
with their peers in other countries and on a real-time basis. Social media
has become the order of the day and there is increased demand on data
bandwidth to respond to these demands. Although SIERRATEL was
recapitalised using external funds, there has not been any marked
improvement in the services provided. SIERRATEL is in fact burdened with
debt problems. Similarly, SALCAB and the Ministry of Telecommunications
have landed high speed fibre optics but there has been little improvement
in the use of ICT in the country and very little is made public. Again,
because of political meddling, NATCOM’s role as an independent regulator
is under threat. It is perceived to be inefficient. There are concerns about
value for money to consumers and the non-transparent management of
the international telecommunications gateway.

115. Mr. Speaker, my New Direction will ensure that communications
services are improved to such an extent as to contribute significantly to
the country’s communications development and at affordable cost to all.
More specifically, my administration will (i) de-politicise NATCOM to enable
it carry out its functions efficiently and effectively (ii) establish an Electronic
Governance system to manage government business electronically (iii)
provide computer to all public libraries and promote training in use of
computer in public libraries, schools and colleges (iv) protect legal
documents by establishment of digital storage centres at remote locations
(v) develop IT infrastructure resilience by multiple back up services for all
government documents in all ministries thereby ensuring health records,
land records, etc. are secure and (vi) enhance broadband access across the
country, improving rural telecommunications and creating customer choice
and affordability.

Lands, Housing and the Environment1
16. The growing demand for housing and other infrastructural facilities
has severely constrained the limited space. The disputes about land
ownership overwhelm the courts often with multiple claimants. Also, land
transfers are badly managed by the authorities in the Lands Ministry such
that land issues have become overwhelming and contentious and the courts
are increasingly inundated with a large number of unresolved cases. This
situation is untenable.

117. The land tenure system in Sierra Leone is proving to be serious
impediment to economic development and is therefore in need of urgent
reform to make it compatible with the requirements of a modern economy.
Land planning and the enforcement of related laws are poor and are also
in need of radical reform. Consequently, illegal structures abound in many
areas. Successive governments have been hamstrung to provide the
necessary remedies mainly for political reasons. The effect of such inaction
is evident in the congestion, poor planning and severe sanitation problems
in many communities.

118. Mr. Speaker, my Government will sanitize and reform the land
tenure system to make it compatible with the increasing demands of a
modern economy and ensure equitable distribution of land and related
issues. Government will pursue the following specific policy action (i)
implement the National Lands Policy 2015 (ii) improve the management of
state lands with a view to ensuring equitable distribution (iii) set up a
Lands Court to help speed up the trial of land cases (iv) build affordable
housing around the country for the underprivileged (v) create Land Banks
to ensure availability and affordability (vi) in consultation with relevant
professional bodies including the Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers
(SLIE), the Professional Engineers Regulation Council and the Sierra Leone
Institute of Architects (SLIA), improve the enforcement of land use planning
and building regulations and (vii) codify land tenure through a GIS
Cadastral system with standard town lots as basic module. All private and
state lands will be plotted as multiples of the standard lot.
119. In the area of housing, my Government will (i) encourage the
setting up of Home Finance Institutions (ii) train youths in the use of local
materials and appropriate technology for housing construction (iii) design
and implement a national programme for housing (iv) encourage largescale
local production of building materials.

Environmental Management
120. Sierra Leone is presently ranked at the bottom of the
Environmental Performance Index, 163 out of 163 countries in 2010,
indicating phenomenal regression since the end of the civil war. The 2013
Verisk Maplecroft Index ranked Sierra Leone the 3rd most vulnerable to
climate change in the world (or the 3rd country in the world with the least
capacity to respond or adapt to environmental change). About 13 percent
of the country’s area and more than 35 percent of the population are at
risk to disasters. In the last 15 years, 4 major floods have affected 220,000
people and caused severe loss and economic damage.

121. In 2008, the Environment Protection Agency Act (hereinafter
referred to as EPA Act) was passed giving the Ministry of Lands, Country
Planning and the Environment policy guidance and directional functions
while the regulatory functions were passed to the Agency. In 2010, the
2008 Act was amended to completely change the governance mechanism
of the Environment Sector. It removed all Government Ministries previously
on the Board, transferred its supervision to the Office of the President and
changed the title of the Chairman of the Board to Executive Chairman and
Professional Head of the Agency. The Director of the Department previously
the Secretary to the Board was also expunged from the Agency. All in all,
the EPA has been politicised and made generally dysfunctional without
any effective collaboration and co-ordination between itself and the many
MDAs so essential for the proper observance and implementation of
environmental regulations.

122. The main objective in my New Direction administration is to protect
the environment. Specifically, the policy actions will focus on (i)
environmental governance (ii) managing forest resources (iii) ecosystem
conservation and (iv) environmental education.

123. In the area of Environmental governance, my administration will
(i) review the EPA 2010 Act and placed it under the supervision of the
Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment (ii) monitor industrial
establishments for compliance with environmental laws and regulations
(iii) establish independent agencies for disaster management and
meteorology to improve the knowledge base and expand actions for early
warning and disaster risk reduction (iv) ensure environmental sustainability
of development policies, programmes and projects at national and local
level by mainstreaming environmental issues across sectors particularly
agriculture, energy, infrastructure, industry, decentralization, finance and
planning (v) develop a national programme for the regeneration and shared
management of forest cover and related products (vi) strengthen publicprivate
partnerships for forest conservation, especially the establishment
of woodlots and commodification of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs)
(vii) adequately enforce laws and policies to protect forests and designate
new areas for conservation and ecotourism (viii) intensify education and
information campaigns to reduce practices harmful to the environment
and (ix) support the teaching of environmental matters in the curricula of
schools, colleges and universities.

Improving Governance
124. In the New Direction, Government is determined to reverse this
deplorable trend in the governance landscape so that every citizen of Sierra
Leone will interact to make governance work for all by undertaking robust,
ambitious and courageous programmes in the following areas of state
governance:

Building and Promoting National Cohesion
125. In the last ten years, the building blocks of national cohesion
and the feeling of belonging of all citizens have gravely crumbled. The
recent governance strategy has been characterised by tribalism, divisiveness,
exclusion and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions.

126. Mr. Speaker, to promote unity and national cohesion, my
Government will (i) launch a Presidential Initiative that will be heralded by
a national conference on peacebuilding, diversity management and
rebuilding of national cohesion. I therefore announce the creation of an
Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion to be established
by an Act of Parliament (ii) fully implement the National Youth Service
Scheme where young people from one part of the country will be crossposted
to other parts for their national youth service.

Fighting Corruption and Improving Accountability
127. Despite the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission
(ACC), corruption is still rife in Sierra Leone. Government Ministers who
were fined after being found guilty of corruption charges returned to active
public service.

128. Mr. Speaker, my Government will treat corruption not only as a
governance issue but also as a national security threat. It will therefore
leave no stone unturned in its fight against corruption. In particular, my
administration will (i) review the relevant provisions of the Constitution of
Sierra Leone 1991 (including Section 119 in particular) and the ACC Act
to strengthen the ACC’s investigative and prosecutorial mandate with
respect to audit reports tabled by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL)
before Parliament to give it powers to proceed without the need to wait for
Parliamentary investigations (ii) develop value systems and implement a
robust merit and reward system in public and private life (iii) ensure the
full implementation of all recommendations in annual audits of the ASSL
and of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (iv) adopt a new framework
to ensure accountability and transparency in the public sector in the form
of National Public Sector Transparency and Accountability Initiative
(NAPSTAI) to subject the public sector to more scrutiny by civil society and
development partners (v) set up a system for planning, monitoring and
reporting on Development Results referred to as Results-Based
Management (RBM) wherein development targets will be set at the start of
each year and senior managers will be accountable for delivering on these
results (vi) strengthen monitoring of public funds and (vii) establish a special
Anti-Corruption Division in the High Court to promote judicial specialization
and expeditious trial of corruption cases.

Improving Security Governance for Development
129. The security sector presently consists of about ten agencies with
political oversight from the Office of the President in the case of the Office
of National Security (ONS), the Central Intelligence & Security Unit and
Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). The Ministry of Internal
Affairs has oversight responsibilities for the Sierra Leone Police, National
Fire Force, National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Immigration
Department and National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency.

130. The critical challenges in the security sector cover inadequate
logistical support inhibiting and impeding the collection and analysis of
intelligence; poor conditions of service leading to corruption at every level
of the sector; dependency on donor support creating uncertainty around
continuity of reforms; weak coordination among security agencies,
inadequate budgetary allocation and delays in payments.

131. We will build on the progressive reforms of the security sector
that commenced after the end of the war, with a focus on professionalization,
de-politicisation and equipping of all forces and agencies for effective service
delivery. Specifically, we will (i) improve the conditions of service of all
service men and women (ii) ensure recruitment, promotions, transfers and
deployment of service personnel are conducted in a fair and transparent
manner taking due account of professionalism (iii) re-introduce community
screening of recruits into the RSLAF and SLP (iv) provide adequate housing
for RSLAF and SLP service men and women and their families (v) work
towards mechanizing and modernizing the RSLAF to enable them generate
revenue to contribute to non-traditional military functions such as relief,
disaster interventions, agriculture and construction (vi) ensure a more
transparent and value-added participation of our security sector in
peacekeeping missions around the world (vii) take immediate steps to
decongest our prisons and institute reforms in the areas of pre-trial
detention, prison management and sentencing (viii) develop an updated
fire policy with attendant regulations and guidelines for the fire force (ix)
set up an integrated immigration network system linking key border posts
with the immigration headquarters in Freetown to facilitate data processing
and storage (x) increase support to the civil registration system (xi) institute
measures to create a National Immigration Service with a view to making it
semi-autonomous in the discharge of some of its functions (xii) review the
laws against drug trafficking with a view to empowering the state to seize
and forfeit assets of drug traffickers to meet national and international
obligations and (xiii) remove disaster management from the Office of
National Security and establish a specialized agency National Disaster
Preparedness and Management Agency.

The Civil Service
132. Despite the many civil service reforms, many challenges remain.
Prominent amongst them are weak human capacity, filling of senior
positions by donor-funded consultants, weak training institutes, overcentralization
in Freetown, poor remuneration, weak expenditure
management, poor accountability and ineffective parliamentary oversight.
In addition, patronage networks and ethnic politics have been important
barriers to building a professional and non-partisan civil service for a modern
democracy.

133. The New Direction will strengthen and modernize the Civil Service
for effective and efficient service delivery. In the New Direction, the principal
objective will be to restore the professionalism and efficiency of the civil
service. To this end, my Government will (i) reinforce political commitment
and provide strong leadership in the reform agenda (ii) rationalize the
structure of the public service with a view to having a clear political
leadership and direction (ii) develop a new architecture of State governance
and a national civil service organogram (iii) review the Civil Service Code
and Regulations (iv) establish a National Civil Service Capacity Enhancement
scheme.

Rule of Law, Promoting Justice and Human Rights
134. Sierra Leone’s judiciary has come under serious scrutiny and
condemnation under the APC government with perceived unconstitutional
intrusion from the executive arm of government under what has become
popularly known as "orders from above". Consequently, public confidence
in the system of justice delivery at all levels is at its lowest ebb. The justice
sector in Sierra Leone is marred by poor service delivery, limited access to
justice, limited allocation of resources, shortage of staffing and limited
capacity.

135. Thus, the biggest challenge confronting the Judiciary today is
the growing erosion of public confidence. Neither are the Judges of the
superior courts immune from public chastisement and this is occasionally
engendered by their suspension from office without due process and their
replacement by colleagues with known sympathies for the APC. The present
status of the judicial system therefore continues to be a huge source of
grave concern for the maintenance of good governance and national
stability.

136. Mr. Speaker, in the New Direction, government will as a matter of
utmost urgency undertake an overhaul of the judiciary and the justice
delivery system in the country with a view to restoring public confidence
in its independence and impartiality and make justice accessible and
available for all. In pursuit of this, my Government will (i) facilitate a national
dialogue on the justice system (ii) train a cadre of ’paralegals’ to support
the sector in the country’s extreme rural communities where the services
of trained legal practitioner’s currently pose a huge challenge (iii) strengthen
and capacitate the Legal Aid Programme to continue to provide legal aid
services to our indigent and vulnerable citizens and (iv) promote dialogue
with the Sierra Leone Bar Association to enhance effective and efficient
judicial service delivery .

Executive Power and The Presidency
137. A presidency that is powerful beyond the limits of democratic
governance is dangerous for any democracy. Sierra Leoneans were
disappointed by the unlimited and unbridled use of "Executive Power"
over the last 10 years. State governance has been treated as if there are no
constitutional injunctions or limitations under the 1991 Constitution. The
result has been that the Rule of Law has suffered enormous damage in
the last 10 years.

138. In the New Direction, Government will commit itself to adhere to
the rule of law and institutional reforms to maintain law and order in
society. This will mean I will lead by example, demonstrating the necessary
discipline to refrain from acting unconstitutionally and scrupulously
respecting the rule of law in the best interest of national development and
stability. Therefore, we endeavor to (i) review unlawful acts of the last
Government by way of Judicial and Parliamentary review to facilitate the
quick restoration and maintenance of the rule of law (ii) strengthen Judicial
Independence to avoid the current embarrassment engendered by the
ECOWAS Court Ruling in the Sam Sumana case (iii) avoid the reckless
use of Supreme Executive Authority and so-called Orders from Above and
(iv) examine the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission
and the accompanying White Paper with a view to giving effect to them as
much as is practicable.

Local and Chieftaincy Councils
139. Since 2007, the APC government has shown little or no interest
in implementing the decentralisation process despite its many public
pronouncements to that effect. Human resource management has been
politicised with unwarranted and irregular transfers of staff. Between 2004
and 2007, whilst developing the capacities of the local councils, the then
SLPP administration devolved 40 out of 72 functions. Between 2007 and
2017, only 18 additional functions have been devolved by the APC
government. It also resuscitated defunct District Offices to run side by side
with the local councils. Also, there is a huge disconnect between the Civil
Service and the Local Government Service Commission.

140. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my Government is determined
to strengthen decentralisation through (i) reviewing the National
Decentralisation Policy and amending the Local Government Act 2004 (ii)
completing the devolution of functions (iii) reviewing the local government
grant-making mechanism with a view to ensuring that the initial principles
underpinning it (equity, need, lack of capacity to raise adequate own/local
resources and even development across the country) form the basis of
computation, allocation and distribution of all grants irrespective of location
and partisan composition (iv) restore the dignity of Paramount Chiefs and
bring them back to the centre stage of national governance with rights and
obligations fully recognized and respected (v) harmonize the relationship
between Local Councils and Council of Paramount Chiefs to ensure mutual
respect and trust for effective service delivery process and (vi) ensure that
the salaries and other conditions of service of Local Council staff are aligned
with the conditions of service of the Civil Service Commission and that
Local Council staff have the opportunity of serving at the central level and
vice versa.

Strengthening Democratic Institutions
141. Democratic institutions including the National Commission for
Human Rights (NCHR), the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC),
National Electoral Commission (NEC), Independent Media Commission
(IMC), National Commission for Democracy (NCD), Sierra Leone
Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) have been weakened owing to
Government’s interference and patronage. These institutions have been
starved of competent human capital to enable them function effectively.
Even worse, they have been grossly politicised to the extent that they have
lost their operational focus and independence.

142. My administration will ensure that all national democratic
institutions are put back on track as a matter of urgency by restoring their
autonomy, creating the necessary enabling environment to execute their
statutory mandate and to serve the people well. Specifically, my Government
will (i) review laws and policies guiding the functioning of democratic
institutions with a view to restoring their autonomy and independence (ii)
increase the role of non-state actors in the management of democratic
institutions (iii) increase the transparency of the operations of democratic
institutions and (iv) develop the capacities of democratic institutions through
adequate funding, qualified and competent human resources as well as
efficient and effective systems and procedures.

Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy
143. The Foreign Ministry has been unable to make major imprints
on the foreign and international scene to earn the country the muchneeded
foreign direct investment and recognition in the sub-region, African
continent and the world at large. The lack of a clear foreign policy
orientation, the low capacity of our foreign diplomats, undue interference
in the recruitment and performance of diplomats, among others, constitute
the critical challenges in our efforts to optimize the gains from our diplomatic
and foreign relations. The recent hiring of staff to serve in technical positions
was a mere charade.

144. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in the New Direction,
Government will place the highest premium on development and economic
diplomacy as a core national interest. To this end, the location of existing
and the establishment of new Embassies/Missions will be rationalised in
order to achieve the greatest benefits consistent with the national interests
of our country. My Government will specifically carry out the following (i)
elaborate a new robust foreign policy for Sierra Leone with a clearly focused
re-orientation that will de-emphasize dependence on foreign aid in favour
of promoting favourable development and trade relations consistent with
evolving global trends and anticipated outcomes for national economic
development (ii) restructure the Foreign Ministry to fully reflect the new
national policy objectives (iii) establish a school of diplomacy to train career
diplomats and (iv) evaluate our foreign embassies and missions for
rehabilitation, upgrading and revitalizing

Fourth Estate and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
145. Media and civil society have become the bedrock of modern
governance. In Sierra Leone, the media and CSOs are at the forefront in
holding state actors accountable. In early 2000, Government set up the
Independent Media Commission (IMC) and charged it with the task of
regulating and monitoring media institutions to ensure that they operate
in a way that promotes the public good. However, the IMC has failed to
enforce its own ethics and like most democratic institutions, it has not
escaped political interference from past Government.

146. In 2009, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) was
transformed into a national broadcaster and renamed the Sierra Leone
Broadcasting Corporation. Its mandate enjoins it to be impartial and to
provide equal opportunities to all political parties. Over time it has failed to
discharge this mandate and became virtually the mouthpiece of the former
ruling APC party.

147. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, my administration will take
immediate steps to (i) repeal the seditious libel law (ii) support the School
of Journalism and other institutions to train journalists (iii) encourage the
private sector to invest in the media (iv) provide budgetary subvention to
SLAJ (v) enhance the capacity of the IMC to enforce the IMC Act and (vi)
review the legal and operational status of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting
Corporation to make it a truly professional national broadcaster.

Diaspora Affairs
148. The Diaspora is a resource that Sierra Leone can tap into for its
development needs. In the Diaspora reside some of the most educated,
entrepreneurial and wealthy citizens. Most Diasporas are strongly attached
to Sierra Leone and would be willing to contribute meaningfully to the
country’s development.

149. Mr. Speaker, my Government will (i) will review the mandate of
the Diaspora Office and access its validity (ii) examine the laws relating to
dual citizenship with a view to allowing Sierra Leonean Diaspora to fully
participate in the politics of Sierra Leone (iii) mobilize highly skilled Sierra
Leoneans for knowledge and skills transfer to Sierra Leone through
volunteer services or short-term consultancy services or partnership
between local and Diaspora professionals organizations (iv) mobilize and
leverage Sierra Leonean Diaspora business communities for investment
and trade in Sierra Leone (v) develop interactive mechanisms and special
incentives for Sierra Leonean Diaspora Business communities and (vi)
encourage Sierra Leonean Diaspora to form professional fora abroad.

I thank you all
God bless you all
God bless Sierra Leone

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