“S/Leoneans endured Decades of Unacceptable Poverty”

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…President Bio

March 1, 2019

By Joseph S. Margai

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President Bio (right) and Minister of Planning and Economic Development Mrs. Nabeela Tunis, launching the MTNDP 2019-2023

President Bio has observed that Sierra Leoneans have for the past decades endured unacceptable poverty, a situation, he said subsequently urged his administration to formulate and launch the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP).

President Bio, who was delivering his keynote address during the launch of the MTNDP at Bintumani Conference Centre yesterday (28th February 2019), also observed that his countrymen have for a very long time suffered from lack of opportunities to develop.

Dubbed ‘Education for Development’, President Bio said the MTNDP will ensure that issues affecting the transformation of the country will be addressed.

“Sierra Leoneans have become impatient for development. They want to see positive transformation in their lives and we are determined to facilitate this. This is the first time since the end of the war that government has financed such development plan, which would ensure that no voice is left unheard. Two million people were consulted for the formulation of the MTNDP,” he said.

President Bio said the MTNDP, which is a five-year plan (2019-2023), is completely owned by Sierra Leoneans and should be domesticated to fit the country’s aspirations for transformation.

He stated that his government inherited a battered economy, noting that there will be no development when people misuse public funds.

“This is a people’s centred plan and it will be a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable long term development. This will help us to engage our development partners so as to avoid duplication. I followed the development process of this plan with keen interest so as to ensure that everyone makes his/her input,” he said.

He disclosed that he has instructed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to align future annual budget to the MTNDP.

He stated that plans were underway for the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development to present a 20- year plan before the end of the year.

Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Nabeela Tunis, said the MTNDP is an inclusive document, which development was solely financed by government.

“We consulted parliamentarians, persons with disabilities, inmates at the Correctional Centres, registered political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs), among others, amounting to two million people consulted,” she said.

She said one of the MTNDP’s results is a diversified, resilience and green economy, adding that the entire MTNDP has eight clusters.

“These eight clusters include human capital development, diversifying the economy and promoting growth, infrastructure and economic competitiveness, governance and accountability for growth, empowering women, children and disables, youth employment, sports and migration, addressing vulnerabilities and building resilience, and means of implementation,” she disclosed.

Minister Tunis said the estimated budget for the implementation of the 2019-2023 MTNDP is US$8.15 billion, noting that financing the plan will be through effective resource mobilisation starting with domestic resources.

Representing development partners, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal, said the MTNDP will improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans, adding that it will also build resilient economy and enhance growth.

He said the introduction of the free quality education sent a very strong signal that government was not ready to leave anyone behind.

“All development plans should be transformative, and they should bring real change to the lives of Sierra Leoneans. It is the responsibility of all MDAs, parliamentarian, CSOs, among others, to work in the implementing the plan,” he urged.

Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said the MTNDP is the people’s plan, which they started to develop while the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was in opposition.

He said his ministry provided the finance and human assistance during the formulation of the MTNDP, adding that in the implementation of the document, they should intensify domestic revenue collection.

He noted that budget allocations to MDAs must be in line with the MTNDP, adding that the MTNDP is dubbed ‘Education for Development’ because when there is more educated people, there will be less poverty.

Chairman, Local Council Association of Sierra Leone, Joseph Munda Bindi, who also doubles as the Chairman of Bo District Council, said there should be an effective coordination in the implementation of the MTNDP.

He assured that his association was positioned to support the government in the MTNDP implementation, urging that development partners should work in line with the clusters in the MTNDP and not to develop theirs.

“The narrative of Sierra Leone must change from underdeveloped to develop, with the inception of this plan,” he said.