Sierra Leone: There exist a number of challenges to transparency and scrutiny of financing for sustainable development in Sierra Leone, alongside some unique mechanisms, particularly related to participation in public finance resource allocation.
This is according to the Sierra Leone Development Finance Assessment (DFA) published by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) detailing an analysis on transparency and accountability.
Mutual accountability and transparency over financing the report says, are important for mobilising and effective investing in resources in the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) as they support the building of partnerships between actors, strong monitoring and ultimately enable greater impact on sustainable development outcomes.
“Beyond the central government budget, transparency among state-owned enterprises remains weak. The DFA for example failed to access even basic information on the financial performance, spending and investment of key State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) despite their involvement in DFA consultations.
“SOEs are active in many key areas of the MTNDP and improving the information available about their resources and the investments they are making will be necessary to ensure that they fulfil their role as part of the larger public sector in implementing the plan.
“Monitoring is also essential as part of managing public liabilities, preventing leakages and ensuring the accountability of the public sector as a whole. The MTNDP indication framework articulates the target of establishing by 2020 a database on the monitoring and managing of major sources of financial risk, including SOEs.
With growing recognition of the role that private sector actors play in many areas of sustainable development there are efforts in many countries to improve transparency and accountability of private firms, not just in terms of their key financial reporting but in terms of their impact on sustainable development more broadly.
The number of firms globally that produce sustainability reports, for example, is growing. These practices the report says are rare in Sierra Leone, although a small number of the larger firms, particularly those that form part of a bigger multinational group, publish some sustainability related information.
Furthermore, the report stated that, the strength of the Auditor General has contributed to gradual improvement in Public Financial Management (PFM) practices, although the proportion of the recommendations made by the Auditor General to the government that have been implemented is relatively low, at less than 40 percent.
However, while the Auditor General has historically played a strong role in overseeing the budget, reforms that would bring the conditions of service for the Audit Service staff under the oversight of the same central ministries that form part of the Auditor’s responsibility to remit are a potential threat to their independence.
“A common structure elsewhere is for the budget of an auditor general to be approved directly by parliament. While budgetary oversight by the Auditor General remains relatively strong, there are challenges with legislative oversight over the budget. The public accounts committee has limited capacity to be able to undertake full retrospective scrutiny of the budget and legislative participation in its early formulations approval and execution phases is limited.” ZIJ/10/06/2021
By [email protected]