Ing. Andrew K. Keili is former running mate to presidential flag bearer, Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Alliance (NGC) party in the 2018 general elections.
“I think in making a cabinet reshuffle, one thing has got to be clear; it is the prerogative of the President. He knows what he wants in terms of policy implementation and he fixes his team. The buck stops with him. But one would expect that obviously he would respond to the perceptions of the public; and in the eyes of the public there are lots of other issues that should have been handled. And it seems like the cabinet reshuffle addressed some aspects of governance in Sierra Leone but not the most pressing ones that people thought would be addressed. And even with the ones he addressed, they are a little bit unclear. There are lots of questions relating to the appointment (not in terms of the competence but because some of them change the governance architecture and there are a lot of questions people still have and there are a lot of concerns from the people. But it is left with the government to explain this and perhaps convince people that this was the right thing to do. So that’s why I say there are more questions than answers.
On his position on the appointment of seventeen ministerial and deputy ministerial positions in addition to the creation of two new ministries, he had this to say: “Obviously the president must have had a reason for doing this. But to many of us who even understand governance, we don’t understand some of the rationale; let alone some other people. So it is left with the government to explain. I don’t within my limited capability know why the appointment; but perhaps it is left with government to explain.
Speaking on the state of the economy, he said: “Problems in a country are not necessarily addressed through cabinet changes. As much as we may be facing economic challenges, it doesn’t mean if you change the Minister of Finance and the Bank Governor, things are going to improve overnight because their functions are related also to the efficacy of carrying functions in other MDAs. If the investment climate is not right; it is caused by certain other MDAs making wrong decisions; then whatever the Finance Ministry might do, will still be inimical to the progress of the economy. I would not necessarily say: change the economic management team and that is going to solve our problems. I think we have to delve a little bit deeper. We have the seen the budget read recently. Some initiatives are being undertaken by government. Let’s see how well those ones work.
“But I must say that the work of the Finance Ministry and the Economic Management Team is also linked to what happens in other sectors. So let us go a little bit deeper and assess some of these things. In my view, we have not addressed some of the problems. I am not saying that the people that have been appointed are not competent. The thing is: are those the most pressing ministries which need to be revamped for us to pick up? The most pressing needs now in Sierra Leone are the economy, youth unemployment, the poverty situation.
He explained that other problems affecting economic progress include but is not limited to sparse exports, poor investment climate and therefore there is very little the Finance Ministry can do unless it has overarching presence on MDAs.
Ing. Keili warned against government officials working in silo as this greatly affects service delivery. He urged government officials to always coordinate and that MDAs when they come together can do better, adding that cabinet changes are not panacea for economic development. He maintained however that this does not warrant proclivity for people in government to operate in silos. Government is not a one-man thing; they should not operate in silos. So in that sense I do not think it has addressed the most pressing problems in Sierra Leone. You may change the team but if the coordination is poor or if there is a proclivity for people to behave in silos and if the investment climate is not right, no matter what you do, it can’t help the situation.
The economic malaise in which we find ourselves not just happened overnight. In fairness to the government they are paying debtors in Sierra Leone over fourteen million dollars inherited from 2016, 2017. So I would
The exchange rate is worrisome, price escalation and few other things have been brought to the fore. The government should not see it necessarily as mere criticism but as a concern to find out what is wrong, where it went wrong and how to fix it. “I think government should take it as somebody calling their attention to what is happening that is ostensibly inexplicable; that they should delve into. Find out whether it is the business community, price control etc. that is responsible and deal with it,” the NGC strongman said.
One that has been suggested is that the NGC has knowledgeable people who are well informed on many aspects of the economy. The idea of forming an Economic Council had been mooted and this idea does not need to be partisan; you can get everybody together.