The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Friday 24 June 2022 extensively debated and approved with unanimity, the bill entitled, “The Supplementary Appropriation Act 2022” for the services and development of Sierra Leone.
The bill seeks to make revisions and supplementary provisions for the services and development of Sierra Leone for the year 2022.
The Supplementary Budget is estimated at: One Trillion, Four Hundred and Sixteen Billion, Nine Hundred and Two Million, Two Hundred and Sixty-Six Thousand, Four Hundred Leones (1,416,902,266,400).
In his submission, the Minister of Finance, Denis K. Vandy said that the National Budget was predicated on COVID-19 recovery, but unprecedentedly, the war broke out in Ukraine causing a rise in the price of stocks among others. The Minister reiterated that the sharp rise in global prices has affected the domestic economy and went on to explain other reasons. He spoke about support from donors including World Bank, IMF, and other Institutions around the world. The Minister spoke about the projection. Highlighting on the key objective in light of the macroeconomy, the Minister recalled and referred to the projection of the world economy and the slow down of growth in the African Region and the world at large, coupled with inflation rates. He emphasized higher food prices and fuel.
Speaking on the exchange rate and depreciation, the Minister noted and aligned with global prices, revenue drop and the impact of the Ukraine/Russia War. The Minister told Parliament that the Government is mitigating several measures to cushion the poor livelihoods and other matters. He also spoke about other related efforts by the Government.
The Minister further spoke on the reasons of the bill emphasizing that the Supplementary Budget would add to the already existing National Budget. He pointed at the various MDAs that are expected to benefit from the Budget ranging from Agriculture, Health, Defence, Road Maintenance Fund, the Police, and Salaries and Wages Commission, as well as Energy, are among others that would be supplemented.” The unprecedented increase in the price of goods and services he stated, “we are responsible for the situation, coupled with a fuel price”. He spoke about the hike in food prices as well as the rise in the exchange rate. The Minister informed that recruitment of more health workers, teachers amongst others, were also in line with the supplement. He thanked President Bio for his guidance and the Vice President and Cabinet as well as his team and staff members. He extended gratitude to the development partners for their continuous support to the Government and the people of Sierra Leone. The Budget he said, is a continuation of the National Budget. The Minister informed that the Supplementary Budget is largely coming from donor funding, but the Government he said would augment it with domestic revenue.
Debating on the Budget, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon Francis Amara Kai-Samba advised his colleague MPs to confine their debate on Standing Order 69, 3, which he said speaks to the matter before the House. He said they are pretty sure that money would be available to address the imaging issues. According to him, the Minister of Finance had given reasons for the Supplementary Budget and related challenges. He expressed that the Minister stated various institutions that would benefit from the Supplementary Budget and also public debts management, salaries, and wages among others. He also cited development activities.
The Chairman of Agriculture Committee in Parliament, Hon. Salieu Osman Sesay, while contributing informed that the bread and butter issue that was stated in the National Budget is no longer revealed as was earlier promised. He stated that the economy is in shambles and raised concern that, bringing the Supplementary Budget would cause more inflation.
The MP went on to urge the Minister to explain, if the Supplementary Budget would not increase the food price and affected the cost of living, alarming the cost of fuel. He used the opportunity to ask the Government to subsidize the fuel price for the people and went on to say some MDAs have not benefited from the previous budget that was approved, adding that, the Supplementary Budget is so huge. He indicated energy as one MDA that is receiving a Supplementary Budget more than its previous budget. He decried Road Maintenance Fund for not implementing projects properly as contractors are not doing well recalling instances. He asked for an effective monitoring process on projects implemented.
He used the opportunity to advance justification for the Supplementary Budgeting and went on to inform that, the economy was not reflecting on the people.
The Chairman of the Technical and Higher Education Committee in Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Lansana described the Supplementary Budget as a good document and commended the previous speaker for his contribution, and gave indicators of areas that are going to benefit including recruitment, salaries, and wages. According to him, the revenue is expected to increase, “We are confident that total collection would increase at the end of the years” he stated.
He used the opportunity to ask the Minister to extend the Supplementary Budget to the newly approved universities. He thanked the Minister and team for ensuring proactive measures that would ameliorate the economic situation.
Rounding up the debate, the Leader of Opposition, Hon Chernor RM. Bah said they know that the economy is challenged and that the Minister was sincere enough to say it. He said they should not play politics with the budget while asking the Minister to clarify concerns raised by previous speakers. “What is important is to ensure that the budget works” he stated and went on to ask the Ministry of Finance to continue to engage Parliament on the challenges on time, and not when they have gone beyond control.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma said the Supplementary Budget is an addendum and commended the team from the Ministry for their foresight to the economy. He spoke about the reasons for the Supplementary Budget and other related challenges on the globe using comparative analysis of inflation, compounded with the Ukraine/Russia war. He said it was better for all and sundry to address the problem, supporting the harmonization of the Wage Bill. He emphasized economic solving problems and commended the Minister. He spoke about the prediction of food shortage and the Government’s subsidies to Agriculture in order to ameliorate food security. He categorically stated that fuel subsidy is not available and went on to speak about mitigation of the projection. He spoke about policy to support farmers in light of food security, and asked all to proffer solutions.
The Minister in his response to queries raised by the MPs, he said that he will continue to engage the Leadership “your submission is in high consideration” he informed and assured Parliament of a good working relationship.