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Trade Minister Acts Tough

One of the poignant issues that had been pegging us back as a nation is monitoring and implementation of policies and government projects/programs, and the Minister of Trade Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi has demonstrated his astute leadership in the trade sector by ensuring radical reforms.
Sierra Leone has some of the best policies and project designs on paper. What however has been gravely lacking is monitoring for effective implementation of the policies and projects. When the Akosombo dam project started in Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made quarterly site visits and took pictures each time he went there. If there was any delay in progress as at the previous visit, he would ask questions and demand answers, and failure to provide convincing answers went with consequences ranging from suspension to instant sacking. Because of the effective monitoring provided by Dr. Nkrumah, the Akosombo Dam project was completed in record time.

Minister of Trade Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi

In Sierra Leone this has been the bane of our society or for want of a better expression one of the contending issues plaguing our country. We have almost every policy on paper gathering dust on someone’s shelves with little or no implementation. Recent developments are pointing to a radical departure from this retrogressive approach to public work by government officials. A closer look at the work ethics of the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education shows he is not just a desk minister who relies on information provided by junior workers, but a hands on person who has his boots on ground and ears to the grapevine. The results in that sector are evident of the enormous work the young and vibrant Sengeh is doing.
The latest minister in the President Julius Maada Bio administration that has departed from that backward approach and taken a new direction is the Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi. Saddled with the unenviable task of managing the expectations of the people and handling the flow of basic commodities in the country and at the same time navigating the way out of many unpredictable economic situations, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi’s job is not the most lucrative. As Minister of Trade and Industry he has the public’s eyes permanently fixed at him with some gazing with hot imploring eyes depicting a message of anger when things are going awry. He hardly gets the plaudits when prices of basic commodities are stable or dropping as in the case of petroleum products that have witnessed three drops in prices since 2019, or rice that shot to as far as Le 500,000 per bag but dropped drastically to Le 350,000. But a little upward movement of prices of basic commodities and the swords are unsheathed for him with the impatient bulk going for his jugular, unconcerned about the complexity of his job and the enormity of the task at hand especially dealing with a territory that is unpredictable and drawing from other connections distantly removed from his office at Youyi Building.
In this volatile and costly trading atmosphere with external factors that go with shocks that we may not have absorbers for, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi as Minister of Trade and Industry has negotiated some of the steeps curves in the field and come out smelling of roses. When the prices of commodities were flying through the roof, due to external factors beyond his control, he embarked on a media blitz with the Minister of Information and Communications that sought to explain the causes of the price hikes and government’s efforts at curbing it. Their constant engagement of the people allayed the fears of the public and calmed down some nerves. As the impact of the policies developed by the government started yielding results, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi decided to move from the comfort of his cool and cosy office at Youyi Building to become a field officer.
In the last few hours, social media is awash with proactive steps taken by Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi and team to curb the menace of price hike in the aftermath of a 2022 Finance Act that with all intents and purposes, is supposed to not only keep prices of some commodities stable but compel a decrease in prices. Our Minister of Trade and Industry is on tape going round shops and warehouses to ensure compliance with the Finance Act 2022. But before deployment to the field, being the consummate administrator that he is, he convened a meeting with the business community or sections of them which they dodged for obvious reasons.
Cognizant of the fact that the aim of every business man or woman is to maximise profit but keeping in mind also the harrowing effects of price hike on a largely impoverished people, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi learnt the balancing act with distinction. When negotiations with the business community seems to be producing little results, he took the bull by the horn. Some business houses have been closed for now and some warned sternly not to renege on government policy.
The action of the Minister of Trade and Industry might look harsh to some people but certainly well thought out for the benefit of the suffering people of Sierra Leone. Eventually, the discussion around the full implementation of the policy would take place and all parties will come out smiling. We cannot afford to leave the masses at the whim and caprice of some of these greedy and avaricious business houses whose sole aim to make profit at all costs and to the detriment of the people. We need someone to checkmate them and Dr. Edward Hinga Sandi has done just that.



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