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‘Over 21% of 2019 budget will be used on debt servicing’

- says Finance Minister

December 5, 2018

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

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Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa and Deputy Information Minister, Solomon Jamiru

Minister of Finance yesterday disclosed that over 21% of the 2019 budget (Le1.5trillion), which is more than the budgetary allocation to the education sector, will be used on the servicing of debt.

Jacob Jusu Saffa said they wouldn’t want to incur loans that will pose substantial liability on the government, adding that when put together, debt servicing and wages and salaries account for about 70% of the budget and that is unsustainable.

He was speaking at a presser hosted in the conference room of the ministry to respond to the approval of the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund of a 43 months arrangement worth $172.1million under the Extended Credit Facility.

“We have to make sure we industrialised salary, find a way of managing budget and increase revenue so that we can have better ways to spend. We will continue fiscal discipline because we have no option as it is the objective of the new IMF programme. The agenda for continuing it are laid out in the 2019 budget,” he said.

Minister Saffa disclosed that nearly 10,000 ghost workers were identified during the biometric verification of civil and public servants by the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA).

He added that the country has to survive and that can only happen when revenue is increase and space improve because President Julius Maada Bio’s agenda is to diversify the economy.

On the IMF’s approval last Friday November 30, 2018 of a new arrangement, the finance minister stated that the re-launch of the programme has once again restored the international credibility of the country, especially efforts towards macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth.

“The re-launch of the programme will give confidence to development partners and private investors in the investment climate of Sierra Leone. We assure the public of our commitment to deepening fiscal consolidation through revenue mobilization and improved expenditure management control,” he noted.