By Lawrence Williams
The Ministry of Finance has announced the commencement of the FY2024 budget preparation process, aimed at addressing the country’s economic priorities and allocating resources effectively. This process will involve national policy hearings and bilateral budget discussions, and engagement with key stakeholders and heads of government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as local councils.
The National Policy Hearings, scheduled to take place on Friday at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown, will kickstart the budget preparation process. This event provides an opportunity for high-ranking officials, including ministers, deputy ministers, professional heads, and vote controllers to discuss and review sectoral policies in line with the Medium-Term National Development Plan.
Following the policy hearings, bilateral budget discussions will be held from 9th to 22nd October at the Ministry of Finance conference rooms. These discussions aim to facilitate agreements on revenue generation and resource allocation for MDAs, ensuring alignment with the government’s ‘Big Five’ priorities.
One significant focus area in this year’s budget discussions will be domestic revenue mobilisation efforts by MDAs. Finance said MDAs should present details on their current and potential revenue streams, as well as proposals on how these can be effectively maximised. The discussions provide an opportunity for public scrutiny of MDAs’ proposals by various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Finance, District Budget Oversight Committees (DBOCs), Non-State Actors (NSAs), and journalists trained in public financial management by the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN). This inclusive approach ensures transparency and accountability in the budget preparation process, allowing for thorough examination of proposals and promoting good governance.
“The budget process plays a crucial role in efficiently allocating resources for achieving national development aspirations. Compliance by MDAs is essential in implementing policies and plans outlined in the Medium-Term National Development Plan. By involving various stakeholders throughout the budget process, transparency, accountability, and good governance can be enhanced,” said Abu Bakarr Tarawalie, BAN’s policy analyst.
The Ministry of Finance expects active participation from all MDAs, leveraging their expertise and insights to shape resource allocation. This collaborative effort aims to foster sustainable economic growth, promote social development, and address the country’s pressing needs.
Cooperation and collaboration among MDAs are emphasised by the Ministry of Finance to achieve the desired outcomes in the FY2024 budget. Proactive engagement and exploration of innovative revenue mobilisation strategies are encouraged to facilitate Sierra Leone’s development goals.
As the budget preparation process unfolds, Sierra Leone anticipates a comprehensive and inclusive budget that reflects the needs and aspirations of the nation, driving progress and safeguarding the future of its citizens.