Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The Ministry of Finance and the World Bank Country Office convened at its George Street Office on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, to conduct a comprehensive review of Sierra Leone’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 Portfolio Performance.
During the meeting’s commencement, Financial Secretary Matthew Dingie highlighted the session’s purpose, emphasizing the assessment of implementation status and the imperative need to exhibit tangible results. He underlined the significance of developing strategies aimed at elevating the performance portfolio.
The review, conducted annually by the World Bank staff as part of their effort to ensure the efficacy of active projects within the portfolio, known as the Country Portfolio Performance Review (CPPR), seeks to maintain portfolio quality and identify potential issues requiring attention.
Dingie elaborated that CPPR examines the progress made in addressing crucial implementation challenges since the last review. He stressed the meeting’s role as a peer review mechanism, pivotal to the Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA), influencing Sierra Leone’s access to International Development Association (IDA) resources.
He highlighted, “The CPIA evaluations determine our access to IDA resources, reflecting the quality of our portfolio management. Positive performance will bolster our ratings and fund allocation, whereas suboptimal performance might impede our access.”
Abdu Muwonge, the Country Manager, revealed that Sierra Leone’s FY 2023 disbursement rate stood at 26.7%, surpassing the Bank’s 20% disbursement threshold. He urged project heads to ensure that services delivered significantly enhance the wellbeing of Sierra Leoneans.
Muwonge cited that in FY23, the Bank disbursed $415 million across various projects, attributing this achievement to collaborative efforts from project heads.
Sierra Leone he said has been doing reasonably very well, and that last year (FY23) out of 22 countries in the whole of Africa it ranked first on disbursement but has slipped to 4th by the end of the 2024 fiscal year out of 22 countries.
“This is not because we cannot disburse but I was cautious and conservative on increasing disbursement in an election year, regardless of which country” he explained. “The country did very well and it means resources that are coming to support different projects activities in the country.”
He then focused his remarks on three points; policy and institutional reforms, how not handling individual projects can make a difference but bringing projects together that can achieve a single objective if they converge and the bottlenecks faced by the projects are addressed.
Manager Muwonge emphasised the need for harmonisation, as some of them are up and others are down and in the grand scheme of things they need to be balanced as they all bring skills.
“We are not focusing on having the project implemented in isolation but we are trying to see that we create convergence, so at the end of day we focus on outcomes. We should avoid my project, my project” said Abdu.
He cited improvement in learning outcomes or reduction in maternal mortality, saying there are many factors that will contribute to that. What they have been doing in the energy portfolio is that, they worked with the Ministry of Finance to identify 500 schools and 200 health centers to benefit from solar systems.
The idea he said is if electricity is increased in these centers it will improve on health and learning outcomes. Adding that, if another project is handling internet connectivity it will be easy for them to layover in those schools and health centers.
Peter Nuyaba Sam-Kpakra, Development Secretary at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, discussed common challenges in implementation and disbursements, emphasizing the CPPR’s significance in the CPIA exercise.
Madam Jeneba Bangura, Deputy Minister of Finance I, representing the Minister, lauded the Bank’s support, aligned with the Government’s Big Five Strategy for social justice. She reminded project heads of donor funds as pivotal engines driving development objectives, urging compliance with donor guidelines during project implementation.
Bangura assured the Bank of the Ministry’s commitment to collaborate effectively with implementing agencies for timely program activity execution.
The meeting concluded with a focus on collaborative efforts to ensure effective implementation, emphasizing the alignment of projects for greater impact in Sierra Leone’s development landscape. ZIJ/14/12/2023