December 17, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament yesterday ratified two financing agreements amounting to thirty-seven million United States dollars (US$37,000,000) signed between the Government of Sierra Leone and International Development Association (IDA).
The agreements are the amended and restated financing agreement (Social Net Project) and financing agreement (supplementary financing) for the emergency and fiscal support development policy financing.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah, said the objective of the social safety net project was to establish key building blocks for a basic national safety net system and to provide income support to extremely poor households in the country.
He told lawmakers that due to economic hardship caused by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 the World Bank decided to scale up support to extremely poor households as a means of mitigating the effects of the outbreak, adding that the scheme focuses on ten areas, including transfers to increase the use of social services.
He stated that the objective of the financing agreements was to support the objectives of the original budget support operation – the emergency economic and fiscal support operation which will facilitate the disbursement of US$30 million to budget support in 2014, adding that the country requires budgetary support to offset lost revenue from the economic downturn due to Ebola and the closure of iron ore mines.
Dr. Marah noted that the safety net project would target 12,000 extremely poor households in the poorest districts in the four regions of the country – Kono, targeting 2,600 households, which is 22%; Bombali will target 5,300 households, which is 44%; Moyamba will target 2,300, which is 15%; and Western Rural will target 1,800, which is 15%.
He said transfers would be made to a woman within each targeted households in order to increase the potential for higher impact on human capital as it is envisaged that the money will be spent on young children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
Hon. Hassan Sheriff representing Constituency 53 in the Port Loko District said the two agreements were good, thus stating support for its quick ratification.
Hon. Komba Koedoyoma representing Constituency 27 in the Kono District also threw his backing to the agreement and urged other lawmakers to do same.