By Boss Ezekiel

The Chief Executive Director for the Citizens Right Network Sierra Leone in a press conference held at his office Naimbana Street in Freetown told journalists that the Director of Budget from the Ministry of Finance overruled 80% of concerns raised by CSOs, NSAs, DBOCs, and PRESS during the budget hearing presentation at the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Freetown. According to him, the CRN-SL, from now on referred to as the CITIZENS RIGHTS NETWORK SIERRA LEONE, on Wednesday, 21 September 2022, embarked on monitoring the Financial Year 2023 budget bilateral discussion held at the Ministry of Finance.

After a 13-day bilateral FY 2023 discussion on the budget, citizen RIGHTS NETWORK SIERRA LEONE has concluded its comprehensive Report to outline best practices. In its detailed report, corrupt practices that negated international best practices were identified as well as gaps during the process were noted, and concerns about the process were observed as well.

The Director continued that CRN-SL commends the Ministry of Finance over its recent activity status updates during the launching of the bilateral budget discussion on 21/09/2022 in the conference hall at the Ministry of Finance. It is important however to emphasize that such updates were needed. “During the opening of the budget hearing, the vice president, Dr Juldeh Jalloh, highlighted the tight fiscal space in the national budget due to outside forces, such as the Russian-Ukraine war. He added that the war has harmful effects on the world’s economy. Against this backdrop, he advised that MDAs pay more attention to service delivery, rather than administrative spending” he explained.

Mr Koroma expressed that CRN-SL observed that 65% of MDAs did not come in time to present their budget, Finance Technical Team eclipses the FY2023 bilateral discussions and frustrated attempts by the CSOs, PRESS, DBOCS and NSAs from raising questions and turning a blind eye to the process of standing down MDAs.

According to the Director, Over 70% failed to submit the required 50 copies of their documents when presenting, and some even could not attend the FY 2023 Bilateral discussions- Such as the Office of the Chief Minister and, crucially, the National Revenue Authority (NRA). The absence of both l &2 groups defeated the process. CRN-SL also observed that the agenda prepared by the Ministry of Finance for FY2023 had loopholes where 80% of MDAs only received their first and second quarters FY2022 budget allocations, but no allocations for the third and some MDAs did not work towards the ceiling given to them by the Ministry of Finance because of their challenges and scope of operations. Amongst the ministries that made their presentation are the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, National Public Procurement Authority, Immigration Department, Human Resource Management Office, National Authorizing Office, Ministry of Defense, Government Printing Sierra Leone police, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service, Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anti-corruption Commission, Ministry of the Western Region, Attorney General and Ministry of Justice.

The CEO expressed that the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institution (SLARI) faced problems with payment. As a result, they lost their scientific researchers to the University of Sierra Leone and Nala University based on their presentation. “My organization also observed that 90% of MDAs failed to follow the Finance Act of 2018 (41) of printing documents to the government printing press and Serra Leone National Shipping Company (SLNSC) Acts section (31) of the Finance Act 2019 and 2012, noted with low turnout compliance by state own institution to do business with SLNSC” he said.

He ended that Both the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) and Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) denied CSOs, DBOCs, NSAs and the PRESS covering during their presentation, adding that the issue of Auto-spec to upgrading the national motor vehicles’ number plates Keep repeating every year by the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority was laidback and mute about it during their presentation” he explained.

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By Boss Ezekiel

The Commissioner of the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Dr Isata Max-Kye and the team have refused to present their budget to the Ministry of Finance for the year 2023. It could be recalled that the budget is the second highest document after the constitution of any country, which has four stages such as budget formulation, budget enactment, budget implementation and budget auditing and monitoring.

The budget presentation shows transparency and accountability to citizens, and participation in the process is a key which usually happens during the formulation stage, wherein the citizens are allowed to scrutinise MDAs’ budgets together with the technical team from the Ministry of Finance, which is a statutory requirement for every MDAs including the State Own Enterprises.

The National Commission for Social Action NaCSArefused to submit their budget for the FY 2023 bilateral budget discussion which is critical to revenue generation, project implementation, accurate statistical data and several other government institutions that are important. The National Commission for Social Action NaCSA is one of the critical state own institutions that has been receiving money from the government and different foreign donors for other activities such as social safety net, agricultural activities and many more.

During COVID-19 the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance gave billions of Leones to NaCSA to implement the Social safety net, cash transfer and social assistance. Over 90 percent of programs that have been implemented by the National Commission for Social Action are been founded by donors and the people of Sierra Leone need to know how these funds are been used by NaCSA. Therefore, therefore, a must that NaCSA should have presented its budget for a proper review, and transparency and accountability as one of the critical principles of the government of President Bio. If they had partaken in the process, Sierra Leoneans would have been allowed to ask critical questions through the civil society, NSA, DBOCs and the media about the challenges and successes of the current strategic plan and revenue forecast for next year but this right was blatantly boycotted by NaCSA.

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