Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 February 2019:
The Sierra Leone Telegraph has for many years advocated and called for a comprehensive National Development Plan, which will stand the test of time and survive changes in political direction, irrespective of which party is in government. Such consistency and continuity will provide the political stability and clear direction, needed to uplift the people of Sierra Leone from poverty.
Yesterday, Tuesday 26 February 2019, president Julius Maada Bio hosted the inaugural meeting of the country’s Development Partnership Committee (DEPAC), at a well-attended event which took place at State House in Freetown.
Speaking before the start of the committee deliberations, president Bio said he is thankful for the efforts of the Ministers of Planning and Economic Development, and Finance, as well as development partners and all other equally valuable stakeholders, whose inputs have contributed to the formulation of the first-ever comprehensive National Development Plan.
He said development, to his mind, should be predicated on purposeful planning and prioritisation of sectors, development pathways clearly mapped out, and intended development outcomes anticipated in an informed way.
“The development plan is a shared vision that sharpens focus on strategic goals and facilitates strategic partnerships and collaboration among development partners, MDAs, experts, and policymakers. It also promotes dialogue among all parties and helps all parties avoid possible overlaps of work and waste of resources in sectors or across sectors.
“The Medium-Term National Development Plan is a product of what I have emphasised and insisted on governance – inclusive and purposeful planning for quality service delivery. This plan will help us coordinate all available resources. Our future annual budgets will be fully aligned to this development plan,” he said.
President Bio noted that his government was wholeheartedly and resolutely committed to all the priorities identified, adding that Government will ensure that it did not deviate from the identified priority areas.
He said that the priorities identified were complementary and mutually reinforcing, while expressing the belief that if implementation was properly coordinated it would create multiplier effects in every sector of the country.
“My Government is keen on strengthening partnership with our development partners and make it work for our people and taxpayers of your respective countries, who are providing support to Sierra Leone. We fully subscribe to the principles of mutual transparency and accountability.
“To ensure that we adhere to those principles, we must continue regular and structured dialogue with you, our partners. This will only enhance coordination and deepen our partnership with you. We will insist on the comprehensive coordination mechanism contained in the Development Cooperation Framework,’’ he said.
United Nations Country Representative, Sunil Saigal, thanked President Bio for laying out the vision for the implementation of the new National Development Plan and for the principles for collaboration and coordination with partners in order to achieve the goals of the plan.
He added that as partners, they welcome the move by the President and expressed hope that it would be the start of many constructive meetings, with the DEPAC becoming a forum for fruitful engagement and dialogue.
World Bank Country Manager – Gayle Martin, said that they acknowledge that the new Government inherited a dire economic situation with deterioration in fiscal position, government leakages and slow implementation of key programmes, noting that these challenges would be daunting for any new government.
She commended the Bio led government for taking important steps to restore macroeconomic stability, such as dealing with the fuel subsidy, duty waiver and tax exemptions, introducing strong revenue control and rolling out the single treasury account. She said those measures have been instrumental in bringing additional revenue from ministries, departments and agencies into the government budget.