By State House Communication Unit
On Thursday March 23, 2017, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma held discussions with the Development Partners Committee (DEPAC) at State House in Freetown. The president engaged development partners among other things on the country’s economic outlook for 2017/18, elections preparedness, and updates on the president’s recovery priorities.
As chairman of the occasion, President Koroma said the meeting will bring up critical issues and build consensus on the development and transformation of the country. This engagement, he said, will reinforce the partnership and cooperation built over the years with development partners. He registered government’s firm commitment to a peaceful, free, fair and credible 2018 elections, pointing out that unlike previous elections, government will provide the lion’s share of the budget for the 2018 general elections. The president underscored the significance of the management of the transition period as the post-Ebola period is being transitioned to the president’s recovery priorities.
Making his statement, the World Bank Country Manager Perminder Brar said the country has experienced the highest GDP in the last ten years, adding that significant progress and reforms have been made in the agriculture, energy, fisheries and education sectors with significant improvement in cabinet disclosure of assets as 90% of cabinet ministers have disclosed their assets. Commitment and support from the United Kingdom, the United States and Irish Aid toward the electioneering process and the development programmes across the country. The UK provided twelve million Pounds of which 8 Million pounds will be given to the United Nations agencies, 3.5 million United States Dollars from the United States and 1.2 million United States Dollars from the Irish Aid was provided to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These are commitments made to support programmes not limited to voter education and sensitization, inclusion of women in the process and funds directed to United Nations agencies and other implementing partners (IPs).
The National Electoral Commissioner Mr N’fa Alie Conteh registered the commission’s readiness and commitment to conducting a free, fair and credible elections in 2018. During a PowerPoint presentation, he spoke of two boundary delimitation statutory instruments laid in Parliament on 16th March 2017, adding that the Provincial Act (Cap 60) was passed into law on 13th March 2017, creating an additional province, two districts and three localities. Giving updates on the voter registration exercise, he said 3,300 registration centres across the 14 districts, 4,000 registrations kits, 9,900 registration officers, 431 ward coordinators and 32 IT Focal persons have been deployed nationwide.
Giving a brief statement on the economic outlook for 2017/18, the Chief of Mission for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) John Wakeman-Linn said there is an encouraging growth development as he projected a 6.3% growth of the economy. He also made a passionate appeal to donor partners to shore up their commitment to the electioneering processes and the ongoing development programmes across the country.
Giving an update on the President’s Recovery Priorities, the State House Chief of Staff, Mr Saidu Conton Sesay said 35 out of the 48 priority initiatives will meet 100% of their target by December 2017. Significant achievements made so far include finalizing the national community health workers policy and initiated training for 6,887 community health workers in seven districts (Kambia, Western Urban/Rural, Tonkolili, Bombali, Kono, Bo), 177 out of 500 classrooms constructed, school feeding programme launched, over 48,504 households supported with unconditional cash transfers, supported 11,600 youth with cash transfers, 979 hectares of inland valley swamps cultivated, 115 boreholes drilled across 5 districts (Kono, Kambia, Koinadugu, Bonthe, Pujehun), 4 out of 5 transformers arrived and transported to their various locations, 3 Mini hydros constructed in Makali, Bankasoka and Charlotte, cleaned the Ministry of Health payroll – 900 staff verified and 443 unverified staff removed from the payroll among others.