Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – During their budget presentation for 2024 on Friday, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) expressed concerns about the growing number of extra budget requests from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). These requests are exerting significant pressure on the ministry, which had previously prepared the national budget encompassing all MDAs before the start of the fiscal year.
The MOF reported that the extra budget requests were complicating their financial planning and posing operational challenges. These concerns were raised during the presentation, which included the contributions of various Heads of Departments.
The MOF’s key activities for 2024 include monitoring the implementation of the Finance Act of 2024. They emphasized the need for effective monitoring of this implementation and the development of the Finance Act for 2025. The Finance Act of 2023, which included significant measures such as the introduction of a new minimum alternate tax (MAT) at a rate of 3% on turnover, has already been signed into law.
The MOF also plans to develop a tax expenditure framework, conduct research on the informal economy for tax purposes, improve the investment landscape to promote industrial development and ensure the timely release of the budget call circular. This includes ceilings for recurrent expenditure consistent with provisions in the Financial Sustainability Strategy (FSS).
Despite a list of achievements, the MOF highlighted several challenges, which they aim to overcome with a budget request of about Le 596.518 billion (in old notes) for the fiscal year of 2024. Their three key challenges are related to funding issues, extra-budgetary requests from MDAs, and external dependencies.
The MOF’s allocation for 2023 was Le162.3 billion, and by September 2023, they had expended about Le109 billion. The primary budget drivers include administrative costs, rent, support to selected projects, contributions to the Energy Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), and international subscriptions.
To achieve its goals in 2024, the MOF has outlined several strategies, including detailed planning and implementation tracking, closer collaboration and information sharing with partners and stakeholders, the implementation of forward-looking public financial management reforms, automation of processes through the leverage of technology, and the use of evidence-based policymaking. These strategies will contribute to the effective management of the country’s finances and the pursuit of its development objectives. MJB/16/10/2023