They are almost a year old in office, and some good things must have been happening, notwithstanding the seeming absurdity on the part of some ruthless police officers who see it as their usual business to beat up colleague journalists. It is a pity that, such is happening and not a word has come from the ‘so-called’ police hierarchy saying ‘sorry’. At any rate, this is not, and will never be a police state.
Some people are pretending to be more APC than Ernest Koroma, and it is just too impossible for one to be more catholic than the Pope. Forget it, it won’t happen, and this, those MEN IN BLACK at State House must know this, together with their police comrades.
Notwithstanding this foolish act by some wicked sons of the devil, calling themselves cops, I am attempting to assess the performance of this government, starting with Trade Ministry. With a cabinet of over 12 ministers, the president is at times faced with the herculean task of actually determining who has been performing or not – candidly, I am of the strongest opinion that, some have been doing their bits, while for others, there is room for improvement.
When ministers were appointed by the President, it was out of the conviction that he could not perform all that is required of him, and so the need to get helping hands. But to what extent some of these ministers have been performing, especially given the fact that, they are almost a year in political office.
Looking at the Trade Ministry, it must be one of the key government ministries, especially given the sensitivity of that ministry, when it comes to dealing with the prices of staple food items in the country. There is also the issue of street traders, and what is supposed to be government action towards that. Well the minister recently told Awoko that, he was working towards that, and spoke of currently plans to address this problem.
When the government, through the trade ministry, realized that the global trend, regarding price increases was getting out of hand, the President intervened and took it up as a challenge and since it was taken as a challenge, there would appear to be some success in this direction as today, rice is said to be in stock for the next couple of months. And this is commendable to say the least, on the part of the minister in charge of Trade.
Harmony Trading Company has taken over the marketing of the rice imported by government and since the government has a stake in it, monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to ensure, things happen the right way
Dialoguing, for most times is the best way of handling serious national issues, and so in the recent past, the trade ministry was in constant dialogue with importers of rice and other items into the country, in an effort find possible solutions to the then global trend. So, the ministry in one way or the other succeeded in dialoguing with importers and that yielded some dividend.
We all saw how price escalation globally led to riotous conducts in some countries. In some countries, people were killed, protesters took to the street, demanding swift action from their government but the fact that, we as a country, never witnessed any of such, is an indication that, the ministry was able to handle the situation.
It is no secret that the Koroma led government came into political prominence at a time when the global trends were not conducive, politically, with specific reference to the increase in the prices of basic food stuff and petroleum products. At the time, political gains were almost achieved from that situation by opposition political parties.
If we are to go by the words of the minister in a recent interview with Awoko, then there are indications that, more efforts are underway aimed at ameliorating the food crisis in the country. Moves have been taken to see that, nations that I would refer to as being developed, helped us with more rice, especially from China and Brazil.
Also, the assessment must take the form of looking at the human resource capacity at the ministry. From what the Trade Minister told this Writer recently, one major problem within the ministry has to do with the lack of the required human resource. And it is hopeful that, the government is looking at possible ways of salvaging that problem.
The success of the ministry largely depends on the support of other technical and resourceful persons, and when that is lacking then, there is bound to be failure, and the President has said failure was not going to be an option.
No matter what the president may want to achieve within the next 24 months, if his ministers are not well equipped with the needed resources, there is no way the government is going to succeed. This is my view.
This then takes me to existing problems at the ministry, which I want to believe is not only limited to that ministry but others as well. I was confronted with the difficulty in accepting that, the trade ministry lacks vehicles that could facilitate the smooth running of the ministry’s activities. This should not have been the case, had the recent past government not made away with government vehicles, as alleged by the recent past Transport Minister, Kemoh Sesay.
Again, we have also seen how importers of rice and other much needed commodities are often tempted to do things in their own way especially in terms of increasing the prices of goods. But the intervention of the Trade Minister in this direction has been yielding positive fruit. No wonder today, there has been a system where in, people who sell rice imported by government, have to go through a tough process before they are being allowed.
Again, the fact that, the ministry was able to mount sensitization campaigns to educate people on what was happening over the world with regard to the escalation of the prices of basic food items and how that was affecting us as a nation sends good signals that much could happen if the needed resources are put in place at the ministry.
Concrete actions have been put in place to address the global issue and such actions include encouraging importers to ensure that they had enough stocks in country and the ministry was able to ascertain through the monitoring of importer’s stock levels. So in my opinion, the Trade Ministry has scored some good marks. By John Baimba Sesay