Against a backdrop of woeful, alarming drops by Sierra Leone on global indices measured over past 15 months administration of the country by Government of President Julius Maada Bio, there was good news this week for the regime. (Photo: President Bio smiling at the moment).

The annual Commitment to Reducing Inequality CRI is an index devised by the Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam which analyses data from 157 countries around the world and ranks them according to three major policy areas that are recognized as being key to tackling inequality within societies.

These include progressive spending on assets such as schools, hospitals and social protection, taxing the better-off more than the poorest people, and paying workers a living wage.

Whilst the CRI and its accompanying review conducted amongst the West African States, placed Sierra Leone second to last on the CRI, the review went on to most favourably praise the Bio Government as engaging on policies to turn around the situation it had inherited.

On Pages 26 and 27 of the Review, it is stated within Box 4 that previously low levels of commitment by the Sierra Leone government now “can be turned around” by the new Bio government which apparently inherited Sierra Leone as the second-worst performing country in entire West Africa when it concerns government’s spending on reducing inequalities.

“Sierra Leone is the second-worst performer in the region in terms of its government’s commitment to funding public education, healthcare and social protection spending. The low levels of commitment may, however, be about to be turned around, if the promises of the new government elected in 2018 are fulfilled.

“The manifesto on which the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) campaigned and won power promised to increase government support for providing free, quality public services. For example, President Julius Maada Bio pledged to increase the education budget from less than 15% of gross domestic product (GDP) to 20% and to increase spending on health from below 10% to 15% of GDP by 2020.53.

“The new administration has so far delivered on its promise to make primary and secondary education free, and is in the process of driving up the collection of tax revenues to boost social spending, including a review and renegotiation of mining, construction and telecommunication contracts and the introduction of a comprehensive transfer pricing regulation,” the CRI Review stated on Page 26.

Another positive mention of the SLPP regime is to be found on Page 27 where the new regime is again praised for the usage of technology in health care. “In June 2019, Sierra Leone became the first country in Africa to fully transform its national disease surveillance system from a paper-based one to a web-based electronic platform.

With the revitalized system tracking the occurrence of 28 priority diseases, conditions and events, routine weekly public health reporting has risen from 89% of health facilities countrywide in 2016 to 99% in May 2019. The human cost of the outdated system had held back the health sector’s ability to effectively monitor and respond to health issues and events in a timely fashion, as was seen during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the West Africa sub-region.”

These positive citations for the Bio regime on a globally recognised Index are the very first big success on a Global Index that can be solely credited to President Bio’s government. A previous massive improvement on Anti-Corruption indices such as a huge score on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has been credited to be partly due to the efforts of both the former Koroma-led APC Government and the erstwhile Anti-Corruption Commissioner Ady Macauley.

All other global indices have seen Sierra Leone drop drastically under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio and his SLPP Government. Lamentably, Sierra Leone has dropped and received unfavourable rankings over the last year for the following recognised global rankings:

Global Peace Index; Political Stability Index; World Press Freedom Index; Freedom of Expression Index; Personal Human Freedom Index; Economic Freedom Index; World Happiness Index; Rule of Law Index; Ease of Doing Business Index; World Prosperity Ranking Index; World Democracy Index.

Whilst the SLPP Bio-led Government is to now be praised for its efforts at improving on Inequality between citizens as well cited in the review of this year’s 2019 CRI, it does remain a fact that the SLPP/Bio regime has dropped Sierra Leone’s standing in virtually all other sober, right-thinking global ranking indices.

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