The last Dixon’s Pen looked at the ruling party’s manifesto.
This edition will focus on the main opposition SLPP’s Manifesto dubbed as the ‘New Direction.’
I will want to state that the SLPP Manifesto is well researched and very much educative. It will be good for news men to look at some of the promises the SLPP is making.
The new direction of Maada Bio started by talking about the present economic challenges before proffering solutions by way of what he will be doing.
The SLPP policies on the economy focus on revenue mobilization, public expenditure management, public debt management and exchange rate management.
Under revenue mobilization, the SLPP pinpoints that they will increase the revenue mobilization from 11.1 % to 20 % of the GDP just within three years.
They said that they will not impose new taxes on the people rather they will strengthen tax collection on the current taxes.
The said that everyone including the President and judges will be paying taxes on their earnings to ensure that there is fairness in the tax system.
This is very good because becoming President should not absolve one from paying taxes because President are being paid for what they are doing.
They also promised that they will have a fair wage system as well as having policies on debt management.
It has always been said that Sierra Leone’s economy is an agrarian economy but Sierra Leoneans are still struggling to get food to eat. Very recently Sierra Leone was rated as the third hungriest country in the world.
The new direction proposes that it will increase investment in agriculture. Serious investment in agriculture is very crucial for the development of Sierra Leone.
The New direction also promises increased food and cash crop production as well improving land management and research in agriculture
Sierra Leone has been engaging in mining since the 1930s but little is there to show for it. In fact, it is very paradoxical when one goes into the mineral rich areas and finds poverty in the lives of the people.
The New Direction proposes that they will review the country’s Mines and Mineral Act of 2004 and that they will also strengthen the National Mineral Agency to ensure that it is completely independent.
Social Development especially education seems to be the flagship program of Sierra Leone Peoples Party.
On the area of education, the SLPP said that they revert to the 6334 other than the current 6344 which they say is complete waste of time.
They said that they will come up with free compulsory primary and secondary education. This is where the SLPP has been finding it very difficult to explain where they will get the money to fuel the ambitious free education project.
They also said that they will increase the salaries of teachers and introduce a “BEST TEACHER” award scheme.
On the area of health, the New Direction focuses on health governance, health financing, human resource management, expanding the free health care, disease prevention and service delivery.
On the free health care which is more topical, New Direction says that it will maintain and expand the free health to include all school going children.
This used to happen up to the early 90 in which school going children would be given free medication when they are in their uniforms. Thus it is achievable if any government wants to do so.
Youth unemployment in Sierra Leone is almost at 70% and it includes all facets of youth- educated, skilled and unskilled.
Bio’s New Direction says that the approach towards solving youth empowerment will be an integrated and coherent approach which includes Technical and Vocational Education and Training, National Youth Scheme, Economic Empowerment, Sports, Music and Performing Arts, Public Works and Agriculture.
On the entertainment industry, the New Direction promises that it will establish an Arts Gallery and Theatre for Performing Arts in all regional capitals and at the same time promotes Sierra Leonean music and musicians nationally and internationally.
On the area of sport, Bio’s New Direction promises that it will Review the policy and legal environment for sports development and at the same time increase budgetary support to sporting activities.
This is very crucial because for sports to be developed in Sierra Leone, there should a sanitized sport environment.
Bio said that he will be establishing a Sports Development Fund, developing and implementing a comprehensive capacity building programme for all sporting disciplines, reactivating school and community sporting activities with a view to identifying and developing talents for national and international competitions.
On women’s empowerment, the New Direction made several promises but the areas on the establishment of a gender commission and the enactment of 30% quota for women as law are very important.
Also mainstreaming gender in energy and procurement are very good in the SLPP’s New Direction.
On the area of governance, the New Direction promises to review laws that will strengthen the independence and autonomy of the democratic institutions in the country.
They further that they will repeal Part 5 of the obnoxious 1965 Public Order Law which criminalizes libel, a promise President Koroma made 10 years ago and failed to do.
The SLPP manifesto also said that they will reduce the power of the president so that it won’t be an “elected autocrat”
They also stated that they will strengthen the independence of the judiciary.
Something that is worth noting on the fight against corruption is the area where the SLPP said they will review the ACC Act to include publication of assets declarations.
The question is why didn’t the SLPP flagbearer started by declaring his assets publicly before the elections?
The SLPP also made some very good promises on energy, transportation, and access to water, housing and many other things.