As FY2024 Bilateral Budget Discussions kick-off, the Minister of Finance outlines Priorities.

The Ministry of Finance, with other stakeholders, has commenced the FY2024 bilateral budget discussions at the Ministry of Finance, where Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) Present and discuss their activity plan and budget for the year 2024 in line with the government agenda and priorities in the National Development Plan.

These discussions are preceded by a National Policy Hearing held on Friday, 6th October 2023, where the Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, outlined government priorities in line with the Big Five Agenda with Agriculture at the top aimed at transforming the lives of Sierra Leoneans.

The Minister further mentioned that the budget is driven by policies of the government, which in turn would be translated into programmes that sector ministries have to implement and cost.

He stated that the role of stakeholders in the budget process is to sit every year and dialogue on the policies and reform agenda that will foster the country’s economic growth, thereby improving the living standards of Sierra Leoneans.

Minister Bangura informed his audience that the FY2024 budget would focus on implementing programmes and policies to protect vulnerable people amid ongoing crises.

He strongly encouraged all stakeholders to focus their discussion on mobilising resources to support the government’s priority programmes and projects, primarily the “BIG FIVE FEED SALONE” and the National Development Plan.

He advised MDAs to provide the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development with their Annual work plans for the Medium-Term National Development Plan to feed the current budget process.

He reiterated that this year’s budget discussion would focus on MDA’s revenue mobilisation to finance their budget proposals, including other innovative state financing sources.

He said the Ministry of Finance would continue to implement policies of not issuing any certificate of approval to MDAs to enter into new contracts if there are no expressed adequate financial provisions in the budget of the MDA approved and appropriated by parliament to meet advance payment of contract and all subsequent payment.

The Financial Secretary, who doubled as the chairman of the Programme, Matthew Dingie, stated that it is fitting to focus on Feed Salone because the importance of agriculture cannot be overemphasised, especially in the wake of all the global twin crises and shocks.

Chief Minister David Sengeh advised that the National Development Plan must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said policy coherence is essential between MDAs for effective and efficient coordination, collaboration and removing bottlenecks.

Dr Sengeh encouraged the Ministry of Finance to drive innovation and build on the public sector agenda.

He advised all MDAs to support the Ministry of Finance in raising revenue in budget processes.

In his keynote address, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh highlighted the gains made in the first term of the government under the Human Capital Development Agenda in areas like education, Health, Etc.

He said he is happy that with the present consistent 15% increment in teachers’ salaries by 2025, the 45% increment would have been met.

He advised that allocations should be completed on time in critical time-bound sectors.

The bilateral budget discussions will continue until 22 October 2023, when MDAs are expected to present their work plan and budget for 2024 in the presence of non-state actors, civil society organisations and other partners.

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