SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 By Jariatu Bangura
Parliament last Thursday ratified three financing agreements amounting to US$43,700,000 for the improvement of budget planning and credibility, financial control, accountability and oversight in government finances, as well as the operational performance of the national electricity distribution utility.
The agreements were signed between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the International Development Association (IDA) on diverse dates.
In his presentation, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Foday B.L. Mansaray, stated that even though the grants should be repaid within 30 years, there is a grace period of 10 years on semi-annual payment commencing on 15 March, 2024, with an interest rate of 1% for the first 10 years of repayment and 2% during the last 20 years.
Mansaray explained that the component of the first two agreements is to enhance planning and credibility and improve overall budget planning, building capacity for managing contingent liabilities and the strengthening of system and procedures for budget formulation.
According to him, the agreements would help strengthen financial control, improve accountability systems and practices, and enhance independent and public oversight in the management and use of public finance.
“The agreements will support the strengthening of revenue mobilization and administration and system and to strengthen local government, financial management and accountability for Local Councils and the Association of Accountability and Oversight,” he stated.
The minister further said that the third agreement will support the establishment of a fully functioning and effective national electricity distribution utility through a performance based contract for utility operation and management, to improve electricity supply in urban areas as well as reinforcement, rehabilitation and extension of priority secondary medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) distribution network.
In his contribution, Hon. Hassan Sheriff of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) said that the Kingtom and Blackhall Road power stations have been in deplorable conditions for some years, and therefore stressed the need to procure more generators for efficient supply of power not only at public offices but private institutions as well.
“US$26.1 million is a huge amount which the Ministry of Energy should supervise and monitor accurately since they have three ministers. The Oversight Committee in Parliament has the responsibility to follow up on the utilization of the money,” he said.
Also, Hon. Eric Komba Koedoyoma of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) welcomed the signing of the agreements, but noted that the performance of Local and District Councils was of little value because they were unable to write simple reports on their activities, adding, “Now that such programs are to be established they should handle it with great care.”
He said the need for energy was paramount because some areas are still in perpetual darkness even though they are paying for the supply of electricity.