Contributing to the debate, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Leader of NGC recalled that for the past two decades “we had run as a country but ended up at the same point where we started”, whilst advancing reasons as to why “we are not doing well in the rankings of human development indices.”
He also called on the government to make the Budget more pro-poor by allocating more funds to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, maintaining fiscal discipline and increasing revenue mobilization. He observed that in spite of the rationalization measures “the APC had spent too much” and that in view of the SLPP inheriting a bad economy, “yet the 2019 Budget of SLPP is also poised to spend more.” He also spoke on the need for fiscal consolidation and to spend more on education, health and agriculture”.
He also called on government to improve on agriculture, fisheries and tourism to attract more funds from those sectors, adding that “over taxing the private sector, high inflation and interest rates, political tensions devoid of peace, togetherness, and inclusiveness will scare investors away”.
Speaking on fiscal consolidation, he expressed fhis ears on “kleptocracy” which he considered to be “so deep that the SLPP Government has a whole lot of job to do about controlling it”.
Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, leader of C4C described the Budget as “brave, brilliant, balanced, dependable, reliable, and smart”.
Speaking on the budgetary estimates and subsequent implementation in light of reviewing the Local Government Act of 2004, the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009, he continued to say that: “the hue and cry on the 2019 Budget will become a fait accompli”.
He acclaimed the Government for prudent financial expenditure, robust revenue mobilization by putting into effect the Treasury Single Account. However, he observed that the challenges to the implementation of the Budget are that huge mining companies are paying pittance as tax to government; and that the huge debts inherited by the SLPP Government, and the preaching of toxic and divisive politics on ethnic and regional lines, and delayed grants would need to be seriously looked into. He lauded the idea of salary harmonization, but that “it will be difficult for commissions set up by Government because they are self-regulated”.
Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma spoke on the need for approving the 2019 Budget so as to enable Government to execute its programmes and policies geared towards the development of the country. He also said that “revenue must be in conformity with expenditure”, citing why IMF withheld budgetary support in 2007 and 2017.