November 7, 2018
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of the Committee on Planning and Economic Development together with officials of the Planning Ministry yesterday discussed the zero draft of Sierra Leone’s new national development plan 2019-2023.
Chair of the Committee, Hon. Francis Bhendu of Coalition for Change (C4C), commended the ministry for undertaking an important national development needs assessment, adding that no country would develop without national planning.
He urged his colleagues to give relevant inputs to the policy as the issues concern and border on their constituents, hence it must be given due diligence.
Development Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Development, Peter Sam-Kpaka said no country would move forward without properly planning.
He said that at the preparation stage of the document they took into cognisance the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Manifesto and consulted other political parties’ manifestos as well.
Sam-Kpaka told lawmakers that other consultations were carried out in all districts, councils, and with development partners, civil societies and other MDAs, thus stating that good planning would help the country achieve tangible goals.
In his presentation, Senior Economist at the Ministry of Planning, Eugene Sawyer said the ministry met with community people to discuss key development priorities that would take the country to 2023 because the people know their best needs.
Sawyer said the zero plan includes education, energy, roads, agriculture, corruption, health, women and children, macro-economy, lands and housing, water, infrastructure and audit.
He noted that the 2019 budget targeted all the above, but are clustered in the new national plan and that for the first time directives indicate how the programmes are to be financed, including monitoring and evaluation.
He said they intend the implementation of the plan to be robust and that the involvement of lawmakers, as key stakeholders in the development of the country, would be critical, adding that planning offices would be established in all the 14 districts as a way of decentralising the ministry.
In her contribution, Hon. Rebecca Yei Kamara of the C4C questioned officials of the ministry as to their plans for local councils since the latter perform key devolved activities.
She also recommended the inclusion of school health in the environmental health action plan as most environments are unhealthy for pupils, adding that the environment must be a safer zone for children.
Hon. Kamara also asked about mechanisms the ministry has in mind to support Sanitary Officers in communities by establishing bye-laws, with a view to controlling the environment.
Hon. Dominic Tshombe of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) said that since the ministry wants to ensure that all schools meet government stipulated minimum quality standards in Basic and Senior Secondary Education, there should be more emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and English, adding that there is poor performance in those subjects, especially in public examinations.
Hon. Tshombe maintained that to improve market access, regulations and governance in the agricultural sector should be top of their agenda.
“Before this time, we used to have Marketing Board which ensures that the needs of famers were met. The essence of market facility and the access to these facilities is to enhance the farmers to transport their goods to the nearest and most reasonable market,” he said.