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NRA stands out in President’s ‘Agenda For Change’

NRA stands out in President’s ‘Agenda For Change’

President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has tagged the National Revenue Authority (NRA) as playing a very invaluable role in his government’s ‘Agenda for Change,’ citing marked developments in the revenue agency as commendable and an example for all other institutions in the country to follow in the agenda for change process.  This, the President noted is “vital in our efforts to secure the resources to finance the Agenda for Change and manage them responsibly.

His government, he said is very committed to reducing the almost perennial dependence syndrome on foreign aid by increasing internally generated revenue. The NRA, the President informed MPs last Friday, “is vital to this mobilization effort”. He commended the NRA boss and his team for the lead they are taking in the Agenda for Change noting that “the Total Revenue collected by the Authority in the first half of 2009 exceeded Le.300 billion – an increase of over Le.27 billion compared to the same period last year”. There is no room for complacency as has been demonstrated by NRA he said in very serious terms.

Commenting on the issue of Goods and Services Tax (GST), Ernest Koroma told MPs “the Goods and Services Tax Unit has been strengthened” announcing that “the GST will be implemented in January 2010”. Members of Parliament were also briefed by the Head of State that “the project to transform the Customs and Excise Department into a modern department is in its final stage” adding that “once completed, it is expected to minimize human influence and discretion in the issue of tax collection”.

President Koroma also spoke on general monetary and financial issues impressing that “my Government continues to pursue public financial management reforms to ensure transparency and accountability” adding that procurement plans and competitive bidding have been established in 43 MDAs in conformity with the National Procurement Act of 2004.

He spoke of his government’s strengthening of expenditure control and the required time for processing payment vouchers and approval of withdrawal forms which he noted have been reduced to a maximum of 5 days.

Koroma also noted that another area that has been strengthened is the internal audit capacity with additional staff from various MDAs pursuing relevant courses at the University of Sierra Leone. “Twenty five internal audit units have been established in MDAs” he said.

The President told the Sierra Leone House of Representatives that “the Human Resource Management Office has completed a national payroll verification exercise which has reduced the actual payroll from 15,950 to 13,681, saving Le 609 million per month for government. A total of 1,781 civil servants have been given retirement letters and their names removed from the payroll as their terminal leave comes to an end”.

Talking on a solid public sector participation in the country’s development, the Head of State noted that “we need a strong, lean, efficient and productive public service to lead our development efforts as laid out in the PRSP II and the Agenda for Change” explaining that his government recently launched Public Sector Reform Programme which has recommended the implementation of a comprehensive pay package that will attract and retain quality staff in the various services as according to him.

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