His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has shared his government’s priority programs with Residents and Non – Residents Ambassadors, High Commissioners and eminent Sierra Leoneans during a State Dinner at State Lodge.
Welcoming members of the diplomatic community and well meaning Sierra Leoneans, Her Excellency Mrs. Fatima Bio, First Lady of the country expressed how happy she was receiving those she referred to as high-level personalities to their resident at State Lodge, Hill Station. She disclosed that she was honored with the turnout of members of the diplomatic communities, particularly those who are not residing in the country.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Nimatulai Bah-Chang told the gathering that the essence of that State Dinner was to strengthen bilateral partnership that would foster development amongst Sierra Leone and her international communities.
“We are here this evening to reflect on where we took this country, to know where we are as government and what we have achieved in just ten months of leadership under the New Direction of President Julius Maada Bio” she noted.
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio profoundly thanked resident, non Resident and eminent personalities on behalf of his government for their diverse contributions towards the national development of the country, president Bio told the gathering that he inherited the worst economic situation since independent.
“This worst economic situation is characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt and huge arrears to contractors” he stated.
President Julius Maada Bio assured the diplomatic community that his government has pursued a disciplined economic management by tackling leakages and streamlining revenue mobilization. He added that those achievements were to ensure that there was a prudent public financial management and expenditure that was characterized by an aggregate fiscal discipline and resource allocation that were based on strategic priorities for effective governance.
“Despite all the economic challenges which I inherited, I have prioritized Investment in Human Capital Development as bedrock for my administration. It may interest you to know that I have coined a new definition for Human Capital Development. For me, Human Capital Development means three things: feeding the brain through Education; feeding the stomach through Agriculture and taking care of the body through Healthcare” he maintained.
President Bio continued by saying that before he launched the Free Quality Education Program, he committed his government to providing an historic 21% of the national budget to the education sector because he said that the standard of education in Sierra Leone had fallen sharply, even though he said Sierra Leone was once called the anthems of West Africa. “Therefore, the role of the diplomatic community here and accredited to Sierra Leone towards the success of this flagship program cannot be overemphasized” he pleaded.
“As part of our government’s commitment to Human Capital Development, we are also scaling up investment in Healthcare Infrastructure services this year. My government is focusing on constructing well-equipped Peripheral Health Units, expanding free ambulance services to all districts of the country, rehabilitating healthcare facilities, providing healthcare personnel. Again, I encourage the diplomatic community to support us in ensuring that we make quality healthcare delivery both accessible and affordable to all Sierra Leonean” President Bio explained.
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio assured the diplomatic community that Sierra Leone was opened to business and that his government would particularly welcome foreign investors that were credible and transparent.
Responding to the statement of President Julius Maada Bio, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Sierra Leone, who also doubles as the British High Commissioners, Gay Warrington said that as head of Diplomatic Mission in Sierra Leone they were very pleased with the manner at which President Bio was governing the country particularly in placing premium in Human Capital Development. He affirmed that the Diplomatic Community welcomed President Bio’s key priorities areas and promised that they would work to support the government of Sierra Leone in achieving those priority areas.
“We followed your campaign messages before you became president, we also followed your government’s priority areas as stated during the Cabinet Retreat, we welcome those steps as we have seen tremendous progress in just ten and half months of your leadership, we have seen fiscal discipline and financial management, most importantly we have seen the fight in combating corruption. We have also seen good governance and the rule of law, we congratulate all of them, we will support those principles laid particularly in economic diplomacy because we have seen a lot gains in that direction” he observed.
He concluded by saying that they would work with the government in ensuring that Sierra Leone moved in the right direction and they looked forward for a deepen dialogue.