He projected further that inflation would be moderated to 17.8 percent in September 2017 with a continued stabilized exchange rate and the availability of domestic food supply improved, are the indication of the considerable progress in the restructuring of the country’s public finances thereby bringing the country’s expenditure profile into better alignment with revenue. Mr. Kargbo pointed out that lessons learnt from the combined effects of the external shocks and natural disasters have underscored the need to strengthen the resilience of Sierra Leone’s economy. He underscored that the implementation of prudent economic policies alongside “the resilience of our people and with support from our development partners enabled us to overcome these crises and returned the economy to positive growth rate.” He went on to point out that the economy recovered in 2016 and that now, it is “stabilizing” as the exchange rate has been stable since the beginning of 2017 while inflationary pressures began to ease in the second half of 2017.
He was however quick to mention the medium term challenges faced by these economic progress, pointing out that that, “significant medium term challenges remain amidst persistent economic fragilities,” and therefore posited the need for continued improvements in road infrastructure, energy and water supply, provide housing for the poor, continue to improve health and sanitation facilities and ensure food security. In order to address these, Minister Kargbo went on to elucidate that it requires “improvement in our revenue generation” in spite the fact that key structural issues of low fiscal revenues remains.
With the 2018 Budget underpinned by the IMF Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement approved in June 2017, its main objective therefore is to enhance revenue mobilization and expenditure control and management to achieve fiscal sustainability and robust medium term growth. To achieve this feat, Minister Kargbo stressed the need for “an aggressive revenue mobilization to ensure the financing of critical expenditures and gradually strengthen our self-reliance,” while noting that the driving force behind the 2018 budget is government’s, “enduring passion and desire to bring sustainable prosperity to all Sierra Leonean citizens as defined in our Agenda for Prosperity (A4P).” This is why in elaborating on the 2018 Budget, considerable references were made to the policies and programmes articulated in the Agenda for Prosperity and the Economic Transformation Programmes laid out in the 2017 budget, and also informed by pre-budget hearing consultations with MDAs, civil society organisations and other interest groups to establish the underlying principles of the budget, which focuses mainly on strengthening resilience for economic transformation and inclusive growth.
This is why the 2018 budget is focused on seven key socioeconomic areas to include; implementation of sound macroeconomic policies, intensifying domestic revenue mobilization, and continuing the diversification of the economy through investments in agriculture, fisheries and tourism, scaling up investment in infrastructure (roads, electricity and water supply), building human development, expanding social protection systems, and protecting the environment and strengthening disaster management.