Citizens will recall that no sooner ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma took over the mantle of leadership of this country than he embarked on closing down institutions responsible for planning and development. One of the institutions that suffered immensely under the failed Agenda for Prosperity was the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning under the tutelage of Dr. Samura Kamara.
The Ministries of Finance, Development and Economic Planning were always merged in principle but separately carried out their institutional mandates. The Ministry of Development and Economic Planning was housed at the 7th Floor of Youyi Building, and being a senior ministry, was in charge of maintenance and supervision of the entire building.
This administrative arrangement came to an end when Dr. Samura Kamara was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development in May 2009 as he prevailed on President Koroma to move the ministry from Youyi Building to the Treasury Building in order to create an empire. As a result, the Ministry of Development was playing second fiddle and to a large extent, subsumed under Ministry of Finance. The Planning Ministry was replaced with the APC slogan of "action pass intention" which development economists referred to as "corridor/stair case development".
By divine providence, President Bio recognised the importance of Planning and Economic Development in his New Direction Manifesto to resurrect the ministry. Thankfully, His Excellency's promised has been fulfilled and we now have that very significant ministry in existence.
Mrs. Nabeela Tunis is the substantive new Minister of Planning and Economic Development and the ministry is temporarily housed at the Treasury Building because their original offices at Youyi Building are yet unavailable.
According to report, the Office of the President has allocated the 7th and 8th Floors of the Ministerial Building at George Street to host the new ministry. However, sources say the minister has refused the directive and has instead ordered all staff members to move into the National Authorising Office (NAO), even though it is an oddity and breach of protocol to share offices with an institution they are supervising.
But that aside, the mood and body language of some senior staff of NAO indicate they are unhappy to share the same roof with their supervising ministry. Also, a very reliable source says the European Union Delegation is not happy with this development as the planned relocation would be tantamount to the EU Delegation reluctantly providing office space for a whole national ministry!
In another development, it has also been confirmed that the Maritime Administration Building at Government Wharf will now house the Marine Resources Ministry, while Ministry of Transport and Aviation will move over to the Ministerial Building, their original host.
In conclusion, inasmuch as we are in sympathy with the Hon. Minister of Planning and Economic Development and staff, we are calling on the new administration to ask the minister to relocate the ministry to the Ministerial Building instead of embarrassing the European Union Delegation by occupying the same roof with NAO at Tower Hill.
We are therefore calling on President Bio to fulfill his promise of revitalising the Planning Ministry by prevailing on both Ministers of Transport and Aviation and Marine Resources to see reason to relocate to the Ministerial Building at George Street.
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development is a vital ministry to share building with NAO, an institution supervised by the former.