The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, today in collaboration with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office conducted the 1st Ministerial Development Partnership Committee (DEPAC) meeting for the year 2022.

The meeting, which is held quarterly is a continuation of the dialogue session between Government Ministers and Development Partners with the theme: ‘2022 Budget as a Springboard for Accelerated Realization of the National Development Plan Targets’.

This year’s DEPAC meeting focuses on ways to build on lessons learnt from past budgets to improve efficiency and effectiveness in recurrent and capital (development) spending with particular attention to implement, disburse, and results vis-à-vis the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2019-2023.

In his welcome address, as co-chair, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai noted that, among other issues, the dialogue session was aimed at putting in place measures that would help Sierra Leone build back better post COVID-19 pandemic and focusing on how the implementation of the 2022 budget would improve service delivery across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“It is a year of accelerated implementation! We are grateful to have the Finance Ministry make a presentation around managing service delivery especially through the public sector. We are equally gratified to have the Chief Minister, who would lead discussions on operationalizing the delivery process”, Minister Kai-Kai said.

The Minister said it was worth noting that the alignment of the annual budget to the National Development Plan priorities, had improved service delivery especially at local level, which had been backed up by the roll out of the District Development Coordination Committees that seeks to unblock bottlenecks in the implementation of development projects, thereby enhancing service delivery in the districts.

Babatunde Ahonsi, UN Resident Coordinator, in his statement, thanked the President Julius Maada Bio-led Government and development partners on behalf of the United Nations Country Office for collaborating with the UN on efforts to enhance a more robust implementation of the country’s (MTNDP) 2019-2023, which priorities are well-aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said as most countries were now opening up and lifting COVID-19 restrictions it was pleasing to know that Sierra Leone has shown resilience in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic over the last two years.

“I believe that the DEPAC meetings have served well as strategic platforms to discuss high-level policy issues that have supported the country in mitigating the spread of the virus and implement programmes that are supportive of the recovery”, the RC ended.

In his remarks, the Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa explained the role of his office as responsible for handling the daily operations of the government, including providing oversight and monitoring as well as overseeing the implementation of the government’s goals and priorities across all ministries, departments and agencies.

He said the DEPAC meetings would be the right platform for Government to dialogue with development partners and the private sector in strengthening development coordination. The Chief Minister said it was important to improve coordination at the programme level among donors and to also look at capital budget as a necessary spending so that they could bring results to the ground.

“We need to look at capital budget not as a wasteful spending but as a necessary spending… you cannot develop Human Capital without capital budgeting in the country. This is key to achieving women empowerment, providing water supply and other basic amenities for the people. As a government we are very ambitious and we have a President who is determined to ensure that he delivers to the people of this country”, he said.

The Deputy Minister of Finance I, Shek Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura presented on key sectoral targets and implementation progress of the (MTNDP) 2019-2023 as at Mid-Term Review, alignment of national budget with the MTNDP, lessons from budget implementation over the years, recommendations from the public investment management assessment among others.

The Ministerial DEPAC meeting is held quarterly to bring the Government and Development Partners including Civil Society Organizations and the private sector together in a roundtable to hold policy-focused discussions in support of the development process in Sierra Leone.