An accountant working at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation who begged for anonymity said she and her colleagues jubilated when they heard the announcement because they had been wondering for a long time the spate at which almost all the ministers and in particularly the president and his inner circle were cruising out of the country more than staying than inside of it attending to state matters.
A group of market women at King Jimmy when asked about how they felt about the travel restriction announced by President Julius Maada Bio replied that although the news is good and the action would reserve much-needed foreign currency, they are not sure whether the restriction on overseas travel by government functionaries will be effective when according to them, it is the president himself who travels out of the country more than his ministers, deputy ministers and other state functionaries.
A teacher Claudius Sillah informed AYV that as far as he is concerned, the travel restriction announced by State House will only be effective when the president sets the pace. He maintained however that, it is good to hear that steps are being taken to restrict overseas travel by state functionaries because it will reduce spending tax payers’ money because according to him, overseas travel by state functionaries had become too “profuse.”
It could be recalled that an internal Government Memo dated 1st August, 2019 and signed by President Bio’s Secretary, called on ministers, ministers of state, deputy ministers and other state functionaries to refrain from travelling abroad until further notice, to help reduce government spending.
The memo comes amidto the tax payer, which many say, has become unsustainable.
Sierra Leone’s economy is facing huge challenges, according to the latest World Bank report, including rising foreign debt, for which the president and his SLPP party had criticized and lampooned the government of former President Koroma.
Several people who spoke with AYV on the issue argued that while government spending is increasing, despite promises by President Julius Maada Bio to curtail unnecessary government spending if elected to office, the government revenue from mining export and domestic taxation has not improved much.
Despite all the above, the government recently increased minimum salary for public sector workers, including teachers and nurses.
But the removal of subsidies on vital consumer products – such as petrol, electricity and water charges, as well as rising inflation, are making life very difficult for the average Sierra Leonean.
However, this latest decision by the President could help ease growing pressure on the demand for foreign currency.
Confirming the President’s decision on national radio was the Minister of Information and Communication Mohamed Rado Swarray. He informed the general public that President Bio is waging war on three fronts: poverty, revenue leakages, and corruption and that cutting down on overseas travel by ministers, ministers of state, deputy ministers and other state functionaries would help reduce government expenditure.