The Ministry of Finance will not entertain expenditures outside the agreed Budget – Minister of Finance.

The Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, has called on Ministries, Departments and Agencies to stay within agreed projects and programmes in the 2024 budget.

“To achieve the deliverables of the Big Five Game Changers, MDAS must implement only policies, programmes and projects that have been agreed in this Budget”, he added.

In the FY2024 budget speech presented to parliament on Friday, 10th November 2023, he made this call with the theme ‘’Restoring Macroeconomic Stability while Protecting the Poor and Vulnerable.

Giving the outlook and economic performance for 2023, the Minister stated that after recovering strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic with a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2021, the Sierra Leone economy slowed down to 3.5 percent in 2022. The economy is projected to grow moderately by 2.7 percent in 2023, stating that the uncertain global economic environment, coupled with high food and energy prices, continued to weigh on economic growth in 2023.

He noted that, despite the limited fiscal space, the government continues to fund the Free Quality School Education (FQSE)Programme and infrastructure development, including completing key roads, water, energy and other government priorities.

Minister Bangura further stated that the total domestic revenue collected from January to June 2023 amounted to NLe 166.4 million, total grants received from development partners amounted to NLe 1.1 billion and World Bank is expected to disburse $65 million as budget support in December 2023, which total grants are projected to reach NLe 3.7 billion which represent 4.7 percent of GDP IN 2023.

He highlighted improving the management of public finances and enhancing the effectiveness of monetary and exchange rate policies to reduce inflation, stabilise the exchange rate to lower the cost of living by protecting the poor and vulnerable and also support the implementation of the Feed Salone Programme to improve agricultural productivity for food self-sufficiency are some of the key priorities in the 2024 budget.

The Minister informed his audience that the government Wage Bill is projected to increase to NLe6.5 billion(6.4 percent of GDP) in 2024 from NLe5.3 billion (6.7 percent of GDP) in 2023. With the recruitment of 2,000 health workers, 500 new employees by sub- vented agencies, an additional 500 staff to be recruited in tertiary education institutions,700 military personnel, 1000 new employees by the Sierra Leone Correctional Services, 200 Fire Force Officers and 2,200 additional teachers.

Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura stated that the revenue and expenditure measures announced in this Budget Statement will sustainably create the fiscal space required to finance the Big Five Game Changers, including the Feed Salone Programme. Noting that sustainable financing of Government programmes and projects will bring down the debt levels while complementing the efforts of the Bank of Sierra Leone in lowering inflation and stabilising the exchange rate.

“In addition, this Budget outlines several social safety nets to improve the quality of life of the vulnerable segments of our society. The Budget also highlights various programmes and projects to create job opportunities for women and youth. These, in turn, will go a long way in addressing the high cost of living,” he added.

Total expenditure and net lending in 2024 are projected at NLe23.5 billion (23.3 percent of GDP). Of this, recurrent expenditure will amount to NLe16.5 billion (16.3 percent of GDP) and capital expenditure and net lending to NLe7.1 billion (7.0 percent of GDP). Foreign-financed capital expenditure is projected at NLe4.3 billion (4.2 percent of GDP), and domestically funded capital expenditures at NLe 2.8 billion (2.7 percent of GDP).

The Government is allocating a total of NLe1.1 billion to the agricultural sector, accounting for 7.0 percent of total primary expenditure compared to 2.1 percent in 2023. N Le3.0 billion to the education sector, representing 20.0 percent of total primary expenditures, NLe1.1 billion to the health sector, accounting for 7.0 percent of total primary expenditure, NLe8.6 million is allocated from the recurrent budget to NaCSA, of which NLe5.0 million is for social safety nets and several allocations to Water, Energy, Roads, Communications and Technology.

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