His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has told Parliament, in a live broadcast on multiple platforms, that Sierra Leone has transitioned from the UN Peacebuilding Fund framework and is now transforming into a just, peaceful, cohesive, and productive nation.
“Accordingly, we have significantly improved our capacity for national planning, resource mobilisation, and coordination of development interventions.
“Throughout COVID, our development partners have continued working with us to address our development challenges in such areas as human capital development, health, infrastructure, energy, the environment, human security, and natural resource management. On behalf of citizens of this country, I want to thank all of our partners for their support.
“With the conduct of the first ever digital national census – the 2021 Mid-Term Population and Housing Census – my Government will henceforth base national development planning on credible data. We have also popularised and amplified our National Population Policy to ensure that our development interventions are aligned with the aspirations of our citizens,” he added.
On the economy, President Bio noted that like many countries around the world, Sierra Leone continued to grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises.
“However, our economic and inclusive growth agenda remains focused on building this country and improving human capital development outcomes for all. Thus, in addition to the COVID-19 Health Preparedness and Response Plan and the Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP) that have guided our COVID-19 response, my Government, continues to implement sound economic policies and public financial management reforms. These policies and programmatic interventions have added stability to our economy, provided solid response to the pandemic’s socio-economic shocks, and paved the way for economic recovery.
“Critical public financial management reforms have kept us on track to recover from the pandemic within the context of the Medium-Term National Development Plan. These include the (i) the automation of revenue collection and management processes by the NRA, (ii) strengthening of the legal framework for domestic revenue mobilisation, (iii) enhancing public debt management, (iv) strengthening payroll management, (v) Upgrading and expanding the coverage of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), (vi) strengthening commitment controls for goods and services expenditures and cash management, (vi) enhancing the fiduciary oversight of State-Owned Enterprises, (vii) strengthening the internal audit function at central and local government levels, (viii) regular production of price norms by the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) to guide procuring entities, and (ix) enhancing the transparency and accountability of COVID-19 spending.
“Over the course of 2021, the Le500 billion Special Credit Facility provided by the Bank of Sierra Leone to support the production, importation, and distribution of essential commodities and the deferral of taxes due to the importation of essential commodities by the National Revenue Authority helped maintain the availability of essential commodities in the country, especially rice, fuel, and health supplies.
“Government expenditures continued to focus on the priority areas identified in our medium-term National Development Plan (2019-2023). Building on this, my Government’s investments in human capital development, especially in the education and agriculture sectors, continue to be complemented by investments in infrastructure. To facilitate the movement of agricultural produce, other goods, and persons, part payment was made for the rehabilitation of 1,835 km of trunk roads nationwide and the completion of 109 km of township streets. Funds were also disbursed to enhance electricity generation, transmission and distribution; and to expedite the restoration of electricity supply to the district headquarter towns and cities, thus stimulating economic activities.
“Reforms to facilitate investment and improve the doing business climate have continued. To drive inclusivity, my Government continues to implement the National Micro-Finance Programme (MUNAFA FUND), through which 5328 SMEs (of which 70% are female-owned), have successfully accessed much-needed finance.
“Through its Business Development Pillar, the Local Content Agency has improved the capacity of local suppliers in procurement procedures and quality standards for those linked to the supply chains of 6 large companies. Local suppliers showcased their products in the Made-In-Sierra Leone Trade Fair and Exhibition. The agency further commenced a nationwide Local Content Audit of Large Companies across growth sectors to increase compliance with Local Content Laws. The agency will soon review the Local Content Act 2016 to address grey areas and take advantage of opportunities embedded in the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) for the local private sector. Legislation will be brought forward to this House.
“I am pleased to announce that in spite of a sharp contraction in 2020, our economy is in recovery and projected to grow by 5.0 percent this year, higher than the Sub-Saharan African projected growth rate of 3.8 percent for 2022. Our economic management and inclusive growth strategy will therefore continue to focus on enhancing domestic revenue mobilisation, rationalising expenditures, working towards single-digit inflation, maintaining a stable exchange rate, safeguarding financial stability, striking a careful balance between reducing fiscal and debt sustainability risks whilst improving spending efficiency, and addressing external vulnerabilities. Furthermore, supporting post‑COVID recovery in key productive sectors, especially in mining, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and tourism, will continue with efforts to improve business environment activities,” he said.
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