President Koroma has disclosed during his speech from the throne that his government has commenced the payment of arrears totaling Le40.53 billion inherited from the previous government.
His pronouncement came as he gave a review of the finances and the performance of the economy during the past year, in which he stated that “on the economic and financial front, the overall objective of the government is to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty while restoring the confidence of the international community in our economic and fiscal management.”
In the past year, he said, “we embarked on a number of consultations with our development partners-the IMF, the World Bank, DFID-UK, the EC and the ADB with a view to-reestablishing good relations and securing their support for our development agenda.”
President Koroma also disclosed that the executive board of the IMF approved the completion of the second review of the current Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF) thus unlocking a number of donor supported programs.
He also spoke about government’s ability to meet its target of zero borrowing from the Bank of Sierra Leone, surpassing the poverty spending target and keeping non-concessional foreign loans at zero.
President Koroma disclosed that development partners have renewed their commitments and made additional pledges in support of the budget, which has resulted in DFID-UK releasing outstanding disbursement of US$26.9 million that was due in December 2007.
The World Bank, President Koroma stated, also released US$3 million to support government’s effort to meet the cost of rising food prices, and in the immediate term, “government has set itself a number of goals for the realization of our key priorities”.
Government, he emphasized, would soon finalize a medium term plan as successor to the former PRSP as it would enhance infrastructural development in terms of electricity, roads and water supply, the agriculture sector and improving the quality of health and education.
The success of our development agenda, he said, would depend on the availability of the required funds to support its programs, as this in turn would depend ultimately on our ability as a nation to mobilize the necessary resources.
Turing his attention to the National Revenue Authority, President Koroma said, “we expect the National Revenue Authority to play a leading role in the enterprise, however there are some officials at the NRA, particularly at Customs, who are resistant to change and are working against our goal of establishing a modern and effective revenue authority”.
He further warned that, “we would not allow them to derail our efforts at generating revenues to meet the high expectations of our people.”