Davies, GNA London Bureau Chief
10, GNA – President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has made a commitment to
fight corruption to make his country more attractive to foreign investment.
an economy burdened with debt in which corruption was rife,” he said at the
UK-Sierra Leone Trade and Investment Forum in London last week.
“The IMF and
the World Bank, among others, had abandoned the country.
“The pace of
new investments stalled and the iron ore mines especially ceased production as
murky deals unravelled.
“So, before and
when we acceded to power, we asked ourselves questions about what business and
investors would like us to get right,” President Bio added.
He won last
year’s Presidential election for the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) against
the All Peoples Congress (APC).
Transition Team discovered widespread corruption and cronyism under the APC.
government asked the African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Audit
Institutions to help carry out a forensic audit of the financial activities of
the APC government.
A team of 43
auditors from Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, working with the Sierra Leone Audit
Service, spent a month scrutinising the national social security agency and the
energy, telecoms and civil works sector, covering the period - January 2016 to
reported that US$1 billion could not be accounted for.
told the London investment forum that his government was now clamping down on
“But it’s a
continuous fight because corruption has a way of fighting back.”
started off with getting the macroeconomics right.
down on out-of-control spending; closed off leakages for fraud, waste, and
abuse of public funds; and we have clamped down on corruption.
“In the ratings
on corruption by the Millennium Corporation Challenge, we moved from 47 points
to 71 points on the scorecard for the control of corruption,” President Bio
that clamping down on corruption is good for governance, good for the economy,
and especially good for business.
“It cuts out
unnecessary red tape, corruption, and unpredictability about registering and
doing business and there is less likelihood of predatory businesses thriving in
the same economic space.
“The IMF and
World Bank have re-established working relationships with Sierra Leone and
their assessment indicates that we continue getting the macroeconomic
fundamentals right. “To us, fiscal discipline, controlling corruption, and a
responsible management of our economy are good for business,” he added.
In a country
that sees 100,000 young people enter the jobs market each year, President Bio
said there was an urgent need to expand and diversify the economy “in order to
make it more resilient”.
“We believe it
takes private capital to do that and lots of it too,” he added.
developed a medium-term national development plan that is pro-growth and
encourages private capital investment in key priority areas in agribusiness and
fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, and renewable energy.”
said that his government had introduced reforms that were now making
registering a business corruption-free and less cumbersome.
endless forms, bribes to dodgy middle men and facilitators, and tortuous
process that often end in frustration,” he said.
As a result, he
said, the number of businesses registered in the last year had doubled and “we
have seen an upward tick in Sierra Leone’s Starting a Business Indicator and
that of Protecting Minority Investors under the under the World Bank Ease of
Doing Business Report 2019”.
these indicators, the country now has its first National Corporate Governance
code to improve transparency and accountability.
It has adopted
global best practices and trends that improve the investment climate in
countries around the world.
said that in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls for
effective participation of women in leadership, all boards in Sierra Leone must
now have a minimum of 30 per cent female representation.
listening to business and we will continue acting to make business easy for
business,” President Bio told the forum.
“We are eager
to cultivate a culture of trust and confidence around investing in Sierra
“We want our
potential investors to know that we are looking for credible partners who are
interested in a sustainable, long-term, win-win relationship where they know
that their investments are protected by a government that truly cares about
business and they are able to make good returns on their investments,” he
Held at the
offices of international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), the forum was
oversubscribed, according to the organisers, Development Markets Associates.
HSF’s Fair Deal Sierra Leone has provided £7 million of pro bono advice to the
government of Sierra Leone on matters relating to foreign direct investment.