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2015 budget targets $400 million for Ebola

2015 budget targets $400 million for Ebola

Freetown, October 1 (SLENA) – The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has on Tuesday September 30, 2014 commenced discussions on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2015-2017 for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the Ministry’s Conference Room in Freetown.

The allocation for the 2015 Financial Year is $400 million and will mostly be directed to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for the fight against the Ebola outbreak.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development is expected to lay and read the budget for 2015 and its Medium Term Perspective in Parliament on Friday 31st October 2014.

The Fiscal Year 2015 MTEF Budget will be the second year of implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity. It should be recalled that in mid June this year, a Consultative Group Meeting on the Agenda for Prosperity was held in Freetown to discuss strategies and solicit support from our development partners towards the effective implementation of the programmes and projects identified in the Agenda for Prosperity.

To strengthen implementation of the A4P, coordination among MDAs as well as the role of the Sector/Thematic working groups and Presidential Task Forces will be legitimized. At the technical level, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will continue to play a central coordinating role relative to programme formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as resource mobilization The office of the President will also continue to play a pivotal role in these aspects.

Public Financial Management Reforms will continue to play an important role in ensuring budget credibility, value for money and probits in the use of public funds to ensure improved public service delivery. The quality of Public Financial Management would be strengthened to improve aggregate fiscal discipline, strategic allocation of resources and efficient public service delivery. The budget formulation process is being strengthened to ensure the timely preparation of the Government Budget and its transmittal to Parliament

It should be noted that from 2015 onwards, budget execution will aim to avoid the accumulation of float transactions and arrears at the end of the year.

In this regard, no extra-budgetary spending will be allowed except for national emergencies and special presidential initiatives consistent with the relevant constitutional provisions. In addressing new PFM opportunities and challenges including those arising from expected streams of revenue from natural resources, Government , with support from development partners, has adopted a new Public Financial Management Reform Strategy designed under the following themes:

      I.        Budget planning, Comprehensiveness and credibility;
    II.        Financial control and accountability, service delivery and oversight;
   III.        Revenue mobilization; and
  IV.        Strengthening Local Governance Financial Management.

The overall outcomes of the strategy include strengthened credibility of the budget, improved comprehensiveness and transparency in the use of public resources, deepened policy based budgeting to reflect government agenda and enhanced predictability and control in budget execution.

In her opening remarks Senior Deputy Financial Secretary, Matilda Williams, welcomed the participants to yet another session of the budget hearing, while reminding the participants that as the country is under a state of emergency, the process will not take its usual form, but that at the same time, it’s a process that is necessary for them to go through. She said they would be listening to proposals made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies day by day and hoped that the proposals will be properly processed in order for them to be prepared for the coming financial year and that they will need to have indication as to their 2015-2017 budget proposals.

In his remarks, Director of Budget, Mathew Dingie, said the budget discussions will be very brief as they do not want it to be overcrowded. He also stated that, that is why they invited representatives of key stake holders who will be part of the entire process to ask relevant questions and made meaningful input to sector Ministry, especially to the current Ebola outbreak in the country, which means the Health Sector will have to take priority centre stage in 2015. He said the Ministry of Finance would like to see how candid opinion. and advice are rendered in order not to only criticized the MDAs but to shape them better, so that once resources are allocated to these Ministries they would use them judiciously to implement programmes that will benefit the country as a whole.

Director Mathew Dingie further stated that they will continue to give the opportunity to present their budget, asked relevant questions and give them relevant advised.

He said the ceilings of the 2015 budget is roughly $400 million adding that due to the current situation in the country they have decided to give attention to the Ministry of Health.

He maintained that MDAs are strongly advised to prepare the indication ceilings on their recurrent expenditures for financial year 2015.

The budget he said will be based on the priorities identified under each pillar in the Agenda for prosperity [A4P]. The 2015 budget will last for two weeks, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Tertiary Education, National youth Commission and National tourist Board are the first set of MDAS that presented their budget.

The implementation of the agenda for Prosperity will give due consideration to gender main streaming of MDAs activities.

By Hawanatu Bockari

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