By Amin Kef Sesay
In an emerging development, the National Authorising Office (NAO) in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development has announced on the 1st April 2020 that the Government of Sierra Leone has met European Union (EU) requirements for early disbursement of a €10 million fixed tranche of budget support for the 2020 financial year, under the Third State Building Contract for Sierra Leone.
It could be recalled that the Government published its Post-COVID19 economic response strategy noting how it will cost over $300 million to deliver.
The €10 million fixed tranche of budget support will provide much needed flexibility for Government initiatives to maintain macro-economic stability and support livelihoods, as well as help mitigate funding gaps created by the need to divert significant public development resources towards the Coronavirus response.
“The Third State Building Contract is central to the EU’s development partnership with Sierra Leone and has a total value of €80,000,000, with €25,000,000 yearly disbursements comprising fixed and variable tranches of €10,000,000 and €15,000,000 respectively.
“These tranches are released through direct financial transfers conditional on the Government meeting pre-agreed sustainable development reforms, and are intended to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Government to implement its Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP),” the statement reads.
In its submission to the EU, the Government included a summary of key activities implemented under the 2018 Supplementary Budget and MTNDP, with a particular focus on progress achieved in the key areas of agriculture, education and governance, and foreseeable challenges.
It mentioned that a review of the macro-economic environment indicates that the cumulative effect of fiscal measures adopted in response to Covid-19 would negatively impact progress of the MTNDP and delivery of public services adding that early disbursement of the fixed tranche would help provide the fiscal space to contain the spread of the pandemic in Sierra Leone and mitigate the impact on its people.
Also maintained was that there must be a review of progress made in public finance management, which includes a review of the Government’s progress in fighting corruption, as well as other improvements in Governance.
The National Authorising Officer and Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Francis Kai-Kai thanked the EU Ambassador, Tom Vens and said: “The Government of Sierra Leone’s economic policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic, necessitates meeting growing health emergency needs, supporting economic activity and preparing the ground for a seamless transition from recovery to development.”
The EU’s early disbursement of the €10 million fixed tranche of budget support for the 2020 financial year, under the Third State Building Contract for Sierra Leone will help the Government of Sierra Leone deliver on its commitments in those areas.
It has been identified that this is a critical period for Sierra Leone. Some have expressed determination that the trust and spirit of cooperation that have been nurtured with EU partners could be reflected in invaluable solidarity.
The National Authorising Office, as part of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, works with the EU Delegation to manage the implementation of EU funds, oversee EU-funded projects, and ensure their alignment with Sierra Leone’s national development priorities.
The NAO currently monitors a range of projects spanning infrastructure, governance, education and agriculture.