By Hawanatu Bockari
The Budget Bureau Department in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED} last week Saturday held a one-day training for the nineteen Local Councils on the Revised Strategic Planning Template & Budget Software Module consistent with policy objectives in the Agenda for Prosperity at the J&E Resort in Bo.
The training was sponsored by the Public Financial Management Improvement and Consolidation Project (PFMICP) in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development through funds donated by donor partners such as World Bank, DFID and the Africa Development Bank.
The objective of the training workshop was to develop the capacity of Ministries Departments and Agencies to prepare strategic plans and strengthen the planning and monitoring of budget implementation in relation to the Agenda for Prosperity.
This followed mostly from the introduction of the Activity Based Budgeting in 2004. It must be pointed out that most of the submissions received from MDAs revealed that much work needed to be done to develop proper strategic plans and performance monitoring plans that are linked to the Agenda For Prosperity under the Activity Based Budgeting.
It should be recalled that Government relies to a greater extent on the performance of MDAs in delivering Public Service to achieve the strategic priorities of the Agenda for Prosperity. With the relatively small contribution of the private sector to public service delivery, Government had continued to greatly rely on the performance of MDAs for the achievement of the goals set out in the Agenda for Change over the medium term.
The key instrument that should drive the activities of MDAs toward achieving the goals set out in the Agenda for Change is their strategic plans.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the Bo District Council, Joseph Bindi said they are gathered to fulfill the mandate set by the Government that during the budget process members of the public will converge to discuss the way forward in the preparation of the budget. He added that such a venture shows the fulfillment in transparency and accountability to which the Government is committed. He assured the gathering that the Local Councils are committed to the process.
Chairman Bindi expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as well as functionaries of Government that were present in the training workshop for making it possible for them to gather and discussed the way forward on financial issues in Sierra Leone.
He commended the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for their relentless effort in upholding devolution process in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that MoFED disbursed funds to Local Councils in two quarters of 2015 to run the administration in Local Councils. He expressed appreciation to the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet in Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Surrur for his support.
Deputy Mayor Bo City Council, WurieJalloh welcomed participants to the program, adding that the training is very important and that they as Councils should take it very serious.
Representative of the Public Financial Management Improvement and Consolidation Project, Amos Lansana said Public Financial Management (PFM) has been going on in Sierra Leone for a decade and that the recent PFMICP is supporting the activities of several components and sub components, including Local Councils. He informed the participants that the training workshop is one of such activities sponsored by PFMICP, noting that the project which started in 2014 is sponsored by donor partners such as DFID, World Bank and AFDB respectively.
Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Ernest Surrur said the development of Sierra Leone has been passed on to the Administrators of the Local Councils, noting that monies are normally sent to Councils and it is expected of them to utilize them for the benefit of the people. He admonished them to utilize monies sent to them well in order to provide the basic necessities of life for the citizens.
Several presentations were made by the Director of Budget Bureau Matthew Dingie, Acting Director of Local Government Finance Department, Alpha Umaru Jalloh, Director of HR Planning & Budgeting, HRMO, Ansu Tucker on the overview of strategic planning process in Local Councils, Strategic Planning process under the Activity Based Budgeting [Successes and Challenges}.
A similar program was held earlier at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown on Friday 25th September 2015 for MDAs.