The Finance Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project has held a day interactive sessions with key actors in five Districts on the agenda for change and the New Poverty Reduction Programme for Sierra Leone. Participants were drawn from the Kenema City Council, Kenema District Council, Kailahun District Council, Koidu New Sembehun City Council, and Kono District Council, including their political and technical functionaries.
Welcoming them the Mayor of Kenema City Council Chief Brima Kargbo thanked the Government of Sierra Leone led by Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for making sure that development gets to all corners of the country. He said if such a positive move continues for the next three to four years Sierra Leone will be a paradise for citizens.
Mayor Kargbo appealed to the visiting team to accept their request as Councils because they know the felt needs of their people.
In his address, the Deputy Minister of Finance Dr. Richard Konteh said Development will only work when all stakeholders decide to work together as a unit. Adding that the time has passed when people used to pass money to people under the table, but now cheques are being passed in public. He said the purpose of the sessions is to push forward the President’s Agenda for Change (AFC) and to facilitate the effective realization of this change at the Local Council level for effective delivery of services to the people. Stressing that they will make sure that every Council has an accurate accountant to ensure proper accounting system.
Dr. Konteh revealed that his ministry has increased the school subsidies from 2000 to 3000 Leones per child and that the second and third term subsidies have been paid to school authorities in the country. He called on all and sundry to monitor the money so that it can be used for the development of the schools. In his contribution the Finance Secretary Edmund Koroma stated that similar sessions have been held in other regions, and that the sessions broadly discussed the progress and challenges associated with the decentralization programme. The following key resolutions which have received the approval of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development where agreed upon: That is to Transfer the payment of salaries of staff of devolved functions (Agriculture, Health, Social Welfare, etc) to local Councils shortly, but in any case before 31st December 2009. The Financial Secretary should issue the required instructions to the Accountant General and inform the affected Ministries accordingly.
Also to transfer the payment of salaries of primary school teachers on the current payroll to local Councils shortly but in any case before 31st December 2009.
Local Councils should undertake the procurement of teaching and learning materials for Junior Primary and Secondary schools currently being done by the Special Procurement Committee in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The national Procurement Authority should assist to expedite the process to ensure that the materials are available in schools by commencement of the 2009/ 2010 academic year