Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 September 2021:
Since coming to power in 2018 the government of president Bio has received over One Billion Dollars in external funding to pay for much needed public services, including healthcare, education and provision of water and electricity.
Sierra Leone government debt has risen from Two Billion Dollars to over Three Billion Dollars since 2018, with the promise by the president of creating over a million jobs as well as addressing the deep economic malaise that has kept Sierra Leone at the bottom of the Global Development Index for several decades.
Critics say that corruption in high places, esepcially across the corridors of government accounts for the loss of at least 70% of public expenditure, and the rest wasted through poor prioritisation of spending, inefficiencies, low productivity, and poor governance.
Are Donors keeping quiet or turning a blind eye?
On Tuesday 28th September, Government Financial Secretary – Sahr L Jusu and senior staff at the Ministry of Finance were visited by a team from the International Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to review the government’s use of UK and World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) funding and impact.
ICAI Team Lead – Dr. Tamsyn Barton, is responsible for scrutinising UK aid spending to ensure that the aid is effectively spent on those who need it most and delivers value for money for the UK taxpayers.
She said that the International Development Association is part of the World Bank Group and provides one of the most important multilateral channels for development assistance for the world’s poorest countries.
The UK she said, has been the largest bilateral donor to the last two IDA replenishment for IDA18 (2018-2020) of 2.5 billion pounds and IDA19 committing another 2.5 billion pounds.
She also informed that as a major donor to IDA, UK seeks to ensure that IDA’s operations are aligned with UK development priorities.
Speaking to the team in his office, the Financial Secretary Sahr L. Jusu welcomed the ICAI team to Sierra Leone and said that the World Bank through the IDA has contributed immensely to the development of the country through funding of various projects and direct budget support.
He said that the Bank has improved its interaction through its decentralized approach with the country manager and country director, thus fast-tracking feedback and decision making.
Mr Alpha Sesay – Team Lead at the Project Fiduciary Management Unit in the ministry of finance said that the procurement portal system has been very instrumental in fast racking project procurement that has been a very big challenge over the years.
He also stated that there has been a general increase in funding for many portfolios across various sectors, with emphasis on safeguarding the environment, social issues, climate change, equity, and inclusiveness.
Mathew Dinge – Principal Deputy Financial Secretary said that the Bank has eliminated the issue of counterpart funding which according to him has been problematic in project implementation especially infrastructure projects.
The review continues.