Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a compelling address during the National Policy Hearings for the 2024 Budget, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh underscored the imperative of enhancing efficiency in government expenditure. The event, held at the New Brookfields Hotel, witnessed an engaged audience as the Vice President articulated his vision for a fiscally responsible and economically robust Sierra Leone.
Responding to the Minister of Finance’s goal of increasing revenue generation to 20%, Vice President Jalloh urged that this ambition should not be pursued through higher taxes but rather through innovative approaches that do not burden existing businesses.
He stressed the importance of refining the tax regime by broadening the tax base and emphasized that augmenting revenue must go hand in hand with improving government efficiency, particularly in spending.
Addressing the Minister’s proposal to reduce government expenditure by 25 to 30 percent, Vice President Jalloh cautioned against sacrificing essential sectors such as health, education, and agriculture. He advocated for redirecting the reduction efforts toward enhancing governance and managing government funds more effectively, thereby closing the gaps of wastages and generating additional savings.
Vice President Jalloh also highlighted the significance of investing in sectors with revenue potential and building the necessary infrastructure to support revenue growth.
Supporting the private sector emerged as a critical priority, given its pivotal role in driving the national economy. The Vice President recommended that the Ministry of Finance and Trade initiate dialogues with the private sector and other investors to foster a competitive business environment conducive to growth.
Drawing attention to pricing concerns, Vice President Jalloh called for the development of pricing formulas for essential commodities such as rice and flour. He cautioned that any tax increases without such formulas would automatically transfer the cost burden to consumers. He suggested that the government could assist businesses facing foreign exchange challenges.
Vice President Jalloh reminded ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) that a budget is contingent on available resources. To allocate funds effectively, a conducive environment for private sector development is crucial, with emphasis on addressing business obstacles and streamlining operations.
The Vice President also identified the port as a vital element of the economy, underscoring the need for improvements. He emphasized the pivotal role played by how investors are treated by relevant ministries, as their treatment significantly impacts economic growth.
Efficiency was central to his message, as he underscored the economic viability and competitive edge it provides. Vice President Jalloh encouraged MDAs to focus on enhancing their individual efficiency to meet budgetary requirements.
In his closing remarks, Vice President Jalloh characterized the budget as a bridge to the future, pivotal for job creation, food security, and empowering the burgeoning youth population through investments in skills training.
The Vice President’s impassioned address showcased his commitment to fostering fiscal responsibility, economic growth, and prosperity for Sierra Leone. ZIJ/9/10/2023