Broadcast statement by HE the President on the rising cost of petroleum products and other commodities
Fellow Citizens: In the past two weeks, I have listened to you expressing concerns over the rising prices of commodities, especially fuel and essential food stuffs.
Let me assure you, fellow citizens, that I also feel the pain.
You are no doubt aware that the current problems are not home-made, but are problems imposed upon us by external factors beyond our control.
Some of these include:
Consequently, you will realise the hard choices faced by my government. As a nation, we are caught between a rock and a hard place. How do we ease ourselves out of this situation without adverse impact on the people and the national economy?
From 2008 to 2011 government has been paying a fuel subsidy to cushion the effect of rising oil prices on the population.
It is important to note that the subsidy requirement increased from Le1.6bn per week in October 2010 to Le 4.72bn per week by mid March 2011, reaching a subsidy requirement of Le 6bn per week by end April 2011. This amount, if saved, can build a modern highway, the length of the distance from Kenema to Pendembu every year, without donor support.
In addition, revenue earned from petroleum excise duty, which we have forgone, was used to augment funds expended on the free healthcare and school subsidies.
However, as President in a responsible government, it is my duty to balance infrastructural development against the imperatives of the bread and butter issues.
Therefore, as a temporary measure, I am making the following pronouncements, ensuing from consensus arrived at during several days of consultative discussions by committees I had set up, made up of The Youth Coalition, Civil Society, Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Oil Marketing companies, Petroleum Dealers Association, Petty Traders Associations, Sierra Leone Police, Consumers Associations as well as government Ministers and Officials:
At the same time, Government continues to engage all stakeholders to further reduce the impact of the worldwide increase in the price of commodities in the country.
Fellow citizens, let me reassure you that my government will leave no stone unturned in seeking the best outcome for your welfare, social and economic development even under the most difficult of circumstances.
Therefore, fellow compatriots, let me appeal to all concerned to exhibit a sense of patriotism, sincerity and devotion during these challenging times.
I thank you.