President Julius Maada Bio JJ Saffa….Finance Minister Brigadier General (Rtd) Kellie Conteh
The Ministry of Finance has put out a public release checkmating the government’s handling of COVID-19 funds in the fight to curtail the pandemic that has lived with us now since March. Since the first case was recorded in Sierra Leone as confirmed in a government release dated March 31, President Bio’s government has received generous financial and material donations from both private and public institutions as well as individuals at home and abroad to fight against the deadly disease. As public money, the government has the responsibility to not only judiciously expend it but to make public how it’s being expended. To demonstrate transparency, the Ministry of Finance early this week put out a public notice outlining how much has been received and expended, and a breakdown of how they have utilised the money. On what has been received so far as of August 19th, 2020, the government estimates that a total of Le. 206, 039, 060, 400 (Two Hundred and Six Billion, Thirty-Nine Million, Sixty Thousand and Four Hundred Leones) and US$ 55, 920 (Fifty-five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty Dollars) have been donated into the respective accounts opened at the Bank of Sierra Leone. Of that amount in the Leones Account, the central government made the largest donation of Le195 billion through a direct transfer from the CRF (Consolidated Revenue Fund) to the EOC account.
From the amount indicated above, the release says the Ministry of Finance has disbursed for use by the government a total of Le. 176.600,000, 000 (One Hundred and Seventy-Sir Billion, Six Hundred Million Leones) within five months.
In that case, the available balance in Leones stands at Le29.8 billion and the foreign account at US$7,203.29 respectively.
The public notice issued is not the first from the Ministry of Finance to prove the government’s transparent handling of COVID 19 finances from the various donors and other goodwill partners. The August Notice is the second on the status of the COVID-19 Special Accounts; the first issued on the 3rd of July. In what can be described as a display of transparency, the public notices take into account every aid money received by the government, with a graphic display of how the funds are being utilized since our sleeves were folded to fight Covid-19 over the last five months. Sierra Leone recorded its first coronavirus case end of March, and on the 25th of that month, the president had already closed the airport to commercial flights from entering the country; a swift development that helped slow the spread of the virus. Thereafter, the government also declared a state of emergency and banned large gatherings, including congregational worships for the two predominant religions. Entry into the country was also restricted and a three-day lockdown was imposed on April 5.
Confirmed cases as of 26th August is over two thousand, with over one thousand, five hundred recoveries, and sixty-nine deaths. Global COVID-19 cases continue to soar, with more than 23.9 million infections according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre. The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths now stands at more than 819,000.