The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Alie Kabba has briefed the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on work accomplished by his ministry in the past eight months in governance. The meeting was organized at the Ministry’s Tower Hill Office Conference Hall in Freetown on 4th February, 2019. In his introductory statement, Minister Kabba reminded the Foreign Affairs Committee on His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio’s
maiden address to Honourable Members at State Opening of Parliament on 10th May 2018, he stated among other things that “… the New Direction Government will place the highest premium on development and economic diplomacy as a core national interest…” President Bio further stated that “My Government will specifically carryout the following: (i) elaborate a new robust foreign policy for Sierra Leone with a clearly focused re-orientation that will de-emphasize dependence on foreign aid in favour of promoting favourable development and trade relations consistent with evolving global trends and anticipated outcomes for national economic development (ii) restructure the foreign Ministry to fully reflect the new national policy objectives” to name but few.
Minister Kabba informed the committee on the commitment of the ministry to vigorously pursue economic diplomacy through trade and investment at bilateral and multilateral fora. He educated the Parliamentary team on the ministry embarking on the signing and or ratifying bilateral agreements on trade and investments with some bilateral partners including the Republic of Ghana, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Republic of South Africa, the People’s Republic of China. The signing and ratification of the agreements are relevant and beneficial to the country as well as scale up development strides that have been negligible over the years Dr. Kabba emphasized. “His Excellency the President’s bilateral engagements during this period in Governance has been fruitful vis-a-vis the area of strengthening and deepening bilateral ties through trade and investment. The State visit of His Excellency the President to His Excellency Nana Akuffo Addo of the Republic of Ghana, has opened doors for mutual trade and investment opportunities between our two countries. I would like to inform Honourable members that Sierra Leone through SLIEPA will be hosted in Accra, Ghana on the 20th February 2019, to do a sectoral presentation on the trade and investment blue print of Sierra Leone” he explained.
The Foreign Affairs Minister informed the Parliamentary Committee on the visa waiver for holders of Diplomatic and Service Passport with the People’s Republic of China in January 2019 which his ministry has secured. He spoke on the ongoing Management and Functional Review carried out by the Public Sector Reform Unit, with the aim of undertaking a transformative recalibration of Sierra Leone diplomatic landscape through a reform agenda that focuses on structural, functional and organizational capacities of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and its overseas missions. In addition, he informed the team on plans to establish School of Diplomacy to train career diplomats in line with the New Direction agenda, which he maintained will be built at a zero cost from the side of Government of Sierra Leone as a result of his engagement with multilateral and bilateral partners including China.
On his part, Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella- Chairman, Committee of Foreign Affairs who doubles as the Leader of the opposition National Ground Coalition Party in Parliament thanked the Minister and team for the laudable efforts and achievements in the last eight months. He expressed gratitude to the Minister for broaden the bilateral relations with other countries, and called on the Minister to extend gratitude to His Excellency President Bio for his international engagements with his colleagues in the world. Dr. Yumkella also briefed the Minister and team on work plan of the Committee for 2019 as follows: Strengthening oversight role, plan to visit four Sierra Leone Embassies abroad and promoting international cooperation. In their contributions, members of the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee spoke on the need for effective and prompt collaboration between the ministry and the committee.