John Baimba Sesay
The 2018 APC manifesto, ‘Governing for the Grassroots,’ deals extensively with issues on access to basic services, the economy, moving forward with the country’s growth sectors and improving governance. Dr. Samara Kamara is in the race with the aim of getting the country closer towards a middle-income country by 2035.
In his words, he would like to be remembered as the President that “contributed to and built on the great legacy of his Predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to transform Sierra Leone into a middle income country; by instituting the right policy, economic, institutional and regulatory frameworks in place to meet all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the vision of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).”
The manifesto in its entirety caters for the basic needs of the common man, a pro-people document that gives a better picture of what the next sixty months will look like under an APC led government. Let us look at few issues from a sectoral viewpoint:
The Agriculture Sector:
This sector contributes over 45% of our GDP and employs over two-thirds of the population. The sector also generates about a quarter of the export income. Budgetary allocation to the sector by 2007 was at a discouraging 1.6%. Agricultural productivity thus became very low, with farming done for subsistence.
President Koroma’s administration was to make the sector the ‘engine’ for socio-economic growth and development. It implemented a Smallholder Commercialization Programme. The focal point of this programme was to increase farmer’s revenue through promoting value-chain development and encouraging private sector participation in the sector. Budgetary allocation to the sector was also increased from a paltry 1.6% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2009 and close to 10% in 2010.
When elected, Dr. Samura Kamara’s government will build on these successes. He will “increase government investment in agriculture to at least 10% of government expenditures; intensify the diversification of agricultural products including vegetables and cash crops,” amongst others.
The Education sector:
Prior to 2007 and before the APC government was elected into office, government’s budgetary allocation in education was 3.1% of the Gross Domestic Product. This was like the agriculture sector which was getting a budgetary allocation of a paltry 1.6%. In 2015, the APC government increased budgetary allocation in education to 15.1%.
On his election as President, Dr. Samura Kamara will be committed to expanding access to basic services. On education, his government will work on building on the achievements made by the current administration by addressing the remaining challenges.
The country’s Economy:
All People’s Congress government inherited a broken economy. Over the past 10 years, we have, as a country, moved “from very poor growth rates to the second fastest growing economy in the world in 2014 and among Africa’s top ten fastest growing economies (IMF, 2016).”
There has been a paradigm shift from overwhelmingly depending on donors to being able to fund our own development.
When elected, Dr. Samura Kamara’s government will work on increasing “revenue to 18 percent of GDP by the end of my first term, ensuring that each year domestic revenue increases by a minimum of 1.2 percent of GDP.”
The former government enacted a law on decentralization. However, little was done to ensure the process becomes effective and a success especially in the areas of devolution of function and transfer of funds to the local councils. In ten years, under this administration, there have been more devolved functions for the provision of basic services to Local Councils.
There has been an increased transfer of funds from central government to the councils and “salaries of both the political and professional categories of the officials of the Local Councils” increased by over 100%.
The next APC administration will amongst other things, “accelerate the devolution process and ensure that all functions earmarked for transfer to the Local Councils are fully and properly transferred; Strengthen local government administration, revenue mobilisation and diversify local governments’ revenue sources.”
We can ensure continued growth by voting Dr. Samura Kamara President in March. Your vote is the power you have to ensure continuity.