By Theresa Kef Sesay
A supplementary budget for FY 2020 was presented by the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, to the tune of Le 1.7 Trillion with its equivalent of USD 170 Million, to Parliament on Friday 24th July 2020 where it was debated and approved.
The Finance Act provides for a supplementary revisions and provisions for the services of Sierra Leone for the year 2020.
It was learnt by this medium that the Budget is aimed at addressing the impacts of COVID-19 and accelerate economic recovery in the country.
In his presentation, the Minister said COVID-19 has affected most sectors including tourism, health, trade and other sectors providing services in the country. He thanked President Bio, donors and line Ministries for supporting measures geared towards mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone.
Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Nyuma commended the Minister and his Team for putting the documents together and colleague MPs for their brilliant contributions to the debate. He assured all of Government deliverables in light of responsibility and accountability. He particularly called on the Committees on Finance and Transparency to strengthen oversight with a view to ensuring judicious use of funds meant for the development of the country.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor Bah called on Government to announce the actual figures of tractors procured to support agriculture in the country; adding there are discrepancies in the current figures. He thanked the Government for prioritising local content policy by giving contracts to indigenous road construction companies; saying “it is a mark of continuity in governance”. Recalling, he said when the APC came to power in 2007, allocation to education was 4 percent, and on exiting power, APC left it at 17 percent allocation to education, adding huge infrastructural development undertaken by the immediate past Government. He called on the Minister to follow the paths of continuity and do timely disbursement of funds to MDAs to deliver on the development agenda of the country.
Chief Whip of Parliament, Hon. Dickson M. Rogers of SLPP drew the attention of the Minister of Finance to agricultural boom in Pujehun District and commended Government for transfer of cash to impoverished households through NACSA. In light of the development agenda of Government, he assured saying “between now to December, Sierra Leone will be a different place”.
Hon. Paramount Chief Matilda Y. Minah of Pujehun District said there is hike in the price of rice in the country and called on compatriots to invest in farming; adding Pujehun is viable for agriculture and fisheries. She drew the attention of the Minister of Finance to a terrible road network and the suffering of travellers including women in maternity in the riverine areas.
Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of SLPP thanked the Government of President Bio for meeting its obligations amidst COVID-19 such as payment of salaries, construction of roads, provision of jobs and other service deliveries. He lauded the Government for the introduction of a quick action economic recovery plans aimed at making businesses resilient to the impacts of COVID-19.
Hon. Paramount Chief, Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka lll of Tonkolili District noted that COVID-19 has destroyed the economies of the world and thanked the Government for managing the economy of Sierra Leone. He urged compatriots to support the Government to succeed than to fail in its development agenda. Speaking on the importance of education, he appealed to the Minister to support the Teaching Service Commission to strengthen quality education in the country. He also called on the Minister to facilitate major road connectivity to Tonkolili District.
Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina described the supplementary budget as non-controversial and commended the Minister and President Bio for their interventions relating to enhanced measures to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy. He also thanked NRA for implementing strategies that are supporting the economy amid COVID-19 with regards to revenue generation. He also appealed to Government to address mining related issues through NMA for economic boom.
Other Members of Parliament made salient contributions.