January 22, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
OXFAM Sierra Leone and the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) have jointly released a report on the State of Inequality in Sierra Leone titled: The Commitment to Reduce Inequality; Sierra Leone at a Crossroads.
Hassan Kallon, programme Officer at IGR told pressmen that the report examines inequality in Sierra Leone across a breadth of critical sectors and issues, with the aim of unravelling the circumstances of Sierra Leone’s progress failures and challenges.
He said the report further seeks to understand the socio-economic drivers of inequality, by identifying progressive trends in government’s response to inequality, and proffering evidence for key actions to be taken by policy actors and citizens against inequality and poverty.
The report identifies, among others, failure to maximise revenue from mineral resources for more inequality reduction spending as contributing significantly to the growth of inequality in Sierra Leone:
It is estimated that between 2016 and 2018, the government lost revenues of 2.35 trillion Leone because of corruption in the mining sector, coupled with an estimated 39.035 billion Leones loss due to discretionary duty waivers.
It states that low levels of investment in human capital over the years reflecting poor health and education outcomes, was also another factor responsible for inequality.
Reading from the report, Andrew Lavalie from IGR told newsmen that government health, primary and secondary school education spending have averaged between 5.5% and 6% of government budget spending from 2013-2018.
“However, this trend is changing; with the introduction of the Free Quality Education in 2019, government increased allocation to Education sector to 21% of total government budget. These low investments denied poor households, especially women and girls, the basic skills for increased productivity and income. Wages remain low and majority of the population participate in a dominant informal economy,” he states.
He said budget credibility was affecting social sector spending significantly and that high impact sectors such as health, education and agriculture spent less than 70% of their budgets over the past decade.
“Evidently, low budget execution rates meant that Ministries, Departments and Agencies failed to undertake all the interventions they planned in respect of service delivery in the critical sectors.”