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Parliament ratifies $49.5m Ebola fight back budget

OCTOBER 10, 2014 By Jariatu Bangura

Parliament yesterday ratified four multinational protocol agreements worth US$49,500,000 as part of the transition support facility to the Ebola sector budget support titled, ‘Fight back programme’, dated 1st October 2014.

The agreements were signed between the governments of Sierra Leone, the African Development Fund (ADF) and the African Development Bank (ADB) to fight the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.

While presenting the agreements in Parliament, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkalu Bah, who represented the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, said interest from principal amount of the agreement would be paid over a period of 30 years after a grace period of 10 years, at the rate of 2% per annum from the 11th to the 20th year inclusive and at the rate of 4% per annum.

He said the purpose of the agreements is to support the efforts of the four targeted countries in controlling the Ebola outbreak, mitigating its socio-economic effects and enhancing their preparedness; and to assist effort by the government of Sierra Leone to overcome the economic effects of the Ebola epidemic and poverty reduction.

“The funds will address the economic impact of the Ebola epidemic and its consequences on government revenues. This programme prioritizes two components critical to the enhancement of responses and preparedness,  capacity in enhancing system and human resources, ensuring appropriate nutrition, food security, social protection, among others,” he said, adding that  the loans would contribute to fund the execution of the budgets for the fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and that 50% of the total proceeds of both loans and grants (US$24,750,000) will be deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund held at the Bank of Sierra Leone by mid-October this year.

The Ministry of Finance, he said, will then transfer 50% of the amount deposited into the CRF and to the Ebola emergency account.

Lawmakers from both political parties represented in Parliament endorsed the agreements, albeit calling for rigid monitoring mechanisms as to how the funds would be spent.