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Samura Kamara in Ethiopia

13 September 2011 at 02:43 | 2997 views

The following is a speech recently delivered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by Dr. Samura Kamara (pictured), Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister.

African Regional Meeting on Peacebuilding and State-building

Addis-Ababa, 8-9th September, 2011.

Planning Processes: Economic Management and Economic Governance-Imperatives, Progress, Lessons.

Background

Civil war began in the eastern part of the country in 1991 and by 1997 it had spread throughout the country, overthrowing two democratically elected governments (Momoh and Tejan Kabbah).

The combatants, including women and children, comprised several factions - NPRC, RUF, Kamajors, Kapras, government forces, etc).
Compared to several other civil conflicts in the continent, ethnic divide and religious tension were never the overarching causes of Sierra Leone’s conflict.
January 2002: end of 10 years civil war was declared; marked by Symbolic burning of weapons and ammunition.

Before then, about 150,000 people had been killed and about 1.5 million displaces; the country’s political, social and economic infrastructures wrecked; high degree of statelessness resulted.

A massive UN peacekeeping operation involving 17,000 troops (highest in the world at the time). Disarmed some 45,000 combatants (excluding some estimated 13000 vigilantes), including 6,774 child soldiers. In 2006, UN troops began to withdraw, resulting in a transition from a more militarised UNAMSIL to a wholly civil UNIOSIL (UN Integrated Office for SL) today. UN peacebuilding operations could end in 2013, subject to Security Council decision.

Notwithstanding, regular UN agencies will continue their support. Sierra Leone was one of the PBC’s first beneficiaries with support amounting to $35 million in 2006.

Key Challenges

- Disarming/re-integrating ex-combatants/Displaced Persons
Supporting the restoration and consolidation of peace, security and democracy
Promoting a growing economy- sustainable inclusive economic growth

- Managing expectations

- Managing proliferation of political parties, political dialogue and Civil Society

- Peer Pressure.

Imperatives

Plausible economic explanation for the conflict was largely anchored on many years of inappropriate economic policies, economic marginalisation, exclusion and disempowerment, inequities in income distribution, massive poverty, weak social safety nets especially for the poorest and most vulnerable, poor delivery of basic services, etc. Economic growth was negative, and personal incomes, export and other productive activities collapsed to very much below pre war levels. Economic recovery became an overarching goal in peacebuilding and statebuilding operations.

In this context, economic intervention including planning, prioritisation, phasing and budgetary allocations broadly span two distinct periods, transiting from planning for peace and security to planning for growth and human development:

2002-2007 (PRSP): focus on disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration of ex-combatants and displaced persons; monetisation of the Peace Accord including the cost of legitimising the RUF as a political party; rehabilitating basic infrastructures; establishing economic management governance (public expenditure management reform) and restoring economic growth (construction, telecommunications); setting up and support to basic state institutions and structural reforms for reconciliation (TRC), restoring peace, security, democracy, rule of law, social protection (NASSIT), anti corruption, re-establishing state authority country-wide including local government and decentralisation. Donor support was largely toward humanitarian/emergency assistance and elections.

2008-2012 (PRSP II-Agenda for Change): focus on economic growth and human development simultaneously, offers a model of clear prioritisation and articulation of government commitment to socio-economic development. Identified priorities clearly address blockages to economic growth, which is necessary for poverty reduction – agriculture and food security, roads, electricity and water, health and education. Strategies and Policies also for improving capacity for public service delivery and stimulating economic growth in the private sector. Establishes interlinked imperatives of economic development – real sector- financial sector (FSDP) nexus, macroeconomic stability (inflation, interest rates, exchange rate, budget deficit, etc), public sector management.

2013-2017: Agenda for Prosperity under preparation, Scaling up and broadening drivers of inclusive growth, employment and value addition productivity (fisheries, tourism, manufacturing and industrial development, women, youth, disabled); improving external competitiveness, better and transparent management of natural resources; accelerating MDGs; development co-operation at regional level; focus on results.

Successes/Flagships

Strong political leadership
A growing economy: economic growth above regional average; positive outlook anchored on minerals, oil and gas, and enhanced domestic resource mobilisation.

Improving health and education indicators (HDI improved) – free health Initiative, basic education;

Sector strategies and action plans – health, education, agriculture, energy and water; macroeconomic stability frameworks.
National Aid Policy - Improved coordination, increased harmonisation of donor strategies, better dialogue, stronger national ownership, better alignment of donor priorities to national priorities; (DEPAC, MDBS, UN Joint Vision. Enhanced state legitimacy, effectiveness and responsiveness.
Peacebuilding strategy integrated into Agenda for Change.

Broad consultations and decentralisation of the development planning processes (Agenda for Change, budget process), broader transparency and accountability; subjected to wider civil society engagement and oversight (PETS, Parliamentary oversight, civil society oversight committees, Audit, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms)

Lessons

The HOW (as against the WHAT) needs better articulation in future strategies and action plans.

Internal revenue generation is critical in light of relative unpredictability, shortfall in aid at critical times; inability of donors to commit support to long-term priorities requiring additional resources; donor reluctance to commit to pooled financing modalities especially for real sector development projects.
There is a need to better prepare for shocks.

Youth unemployment (estimated at 80% in 2010) remains the biggest threat to peacebuilding and statebuilding.

Corruption perception still remains a fundamental barrier to aidflows despite notable improvement of fiduciary ratings.

Dr. Samura M. W. Kamara

Minister of Finance and Economic Development

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