FREETOWN, OCTOBER 28th, 2020.- The United Nations and Ministry of Planning and Economic Development recently launched the program “Strengthening Domestic Resources Mobilization for SDGs Financing” to support Sierra Leone’s efforts in mobilizing much-needed public and private domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The launch was a virtual with more than 70 participants drawn from government, development partners, and financial institutions in Sierra Leone.
The two-year program that will be implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) aims to make better use of financial resources already in the country for SDG programs, such as health, education, infrastructure, and clean industry. This program resulted from a successful country proposal to the global Joint SDG Fund.
The new programme is designed to realize two key activities: 1) enhance government revenue collection, and 2) increase domestic capital accumulation for lending, with expanded financial inclusion. It will focus on removing policy, institutional, and access barriers, while promoting governance and coordination among government, private sector, and civil society actors.
“Making progress on the SDGs, will send a strong message to donors, the private sector, and other stakeholders, that the Government of Sierra Leone is committed to sound fiscal policy and to maximizing the potential of domestic financial resources for development.,” said Dr. Francis Kai Kai, Minister, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, who represented the government.
Progress towards the SDG achievement is now threatened by the current COVID-19 crisis. In this context, it is even more crucial to leverage domestic sources of development finance. But in Sierra Leone, the fiscal space is severely constrained. Low volume of revenue collection limits the level of resources available to invest in Sierra Leone’s 2019 Medium-Term National Development Plan, which is anchored in the SDGs.
Some of the challenges that affect domestic resource mobilisation in Sierra Leone include: a large informal sector; limited tax collection from property; narrow tax bases in a resource-rich country; high reliance on trade taxes and a small number of large taxpayers; tax agencies under-resourced to design and implement sound tax policies or to counter tax evasion and avoidance; and, in select cases, abusive or corrupt administrative practices.
“Ensuring macro-economic stability and accountability for revenue collection, expenditure management and public service delivery is central to the county’s development. The Government recognized this by developing the Public Financial Management Reform Strategy.” said Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sierra Leone, who officiated the launch of the project.
The program approaches the strengthening of domestic resource mobilization not just from a raising revenue angle, but also from the design of an environment that promotes inclusiveness, encourages good governance, matches society’s views about appropriate income and wealth equity, builds institutional capacity development, and promotes social justice.
The seventeen SDGs were agreed to by 193 countries in 2015 as part of Agenda 2030 that envisions a world where economic, social and environmental objectives are realized in balance.