From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Civil Societies Raise Concern over State Budget
By Augustine Samba
Sep 24, 2010, 14:30

A cross section of civil society organizations  in Sierra Leone have raised concerns over the implementation of the national budget and how information about the processes involved in its preparation can be accessed  to enhance transparency.


In a press conference held on Wednesday, 22nd September 2010 at the Search for Common Grounds Office at Bathurst  Street in Freetown, civil society members said the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project (IPFMRP) has a component for Non- State Actors (NSAs) including members of civil society, to provide oversight role over the national budget as well as enhance fiscal probity over the management, accounting, procurement, revenue general and disbursement and the tax policies of government at local and national levels to ensure  transparency and prudent  management.


It was disclosed that, Budget Advocacy Network and other civil society groups including NSAs recently participated in a bi-lateral budget discussions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs ) for Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2011 to 2013.


This discussion was held to ensure a participatory accountable and transparent budgetary process as well as contributing to the ongoing reforms in public financial management observations and recommendations.


In his statement, the Chairman of Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) Ambrose James, who also doubles as a member of NSAs told pressmen that, during the national bi-lateral budget discussions, there  were many constraints, problems and challenges. He informed that the budget discussions were not well coordinated  because of poor arrangement  and most MDAs were not cooperative.

 

According to Ambrose James, most of the strategic plans explained by MDAS were not standardized and did  not have an indicative response of the PRSP pillar 11 which is geared  towards poverty reduction. He maintained that policies and programs have not been properly costed or aligned to the budget adding that  most MDAs do not have any proper procurement plans.


The Coordinator of BAN Mr. Patrick Zombo also urged  MDAs to judiciously use their budgetary  allocations  by strengthening  their battles towards poverty reduction. He said MDAs do not follow sound accounting practices that will help them to achieve their goals.

 

According to Patrick Zombo, during the bi-lateral discussion there were disparities in the MDAs submissions. He said Government through the Ministry of Finance should work on modalities that will cause MDAs to be accountable and transparent.

 

Mr. Patrick Zambo  noted that  Freedom of Information is very essential in this regard, as it will help everybody including the press to access information on the budget to enhance transparency and accountability. He suggested the need for the Ministry of Finance to provide resources for monitors in order to have them actively involved in the  planning and other processes to develop their knowledge.



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