The week long 2018-2020 National Budget Discussion which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance has finally ended with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s (MEST) budget being rejected.
In his statement while reacting to the presentation done by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the chairman of the occasion Santigie Charles Conteh said the budget was excessively vague and lacks many of the elements they were looking forward to see in it. He stated that the committee would not endorse the budget for approval until the said ministry made all the required amendments.
Highlighting the issues that the Ministry of Education needed to address before the committee would eventually accept their 2018 budget, the Assistant Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance, Madam Lawratu Johnson said during the presentation by the Permanent Secretary, they have noticed five major lapses which were of serious concerns to not just them as committee members but also the audience and other non state actors who were present at the hearing. She stated that the five lapses included;
1. Lack of proper accountability and presentation of the 2016/2017 expenditure
2. Lack of a comprehensive status of all donor funded projects
3. Lack of an evidence of their minute (s) of the meeting (s) held for the 2018 budget
4. Lack of status of deliverables for 2016/2017
5. Lack of procurement plan
Lawratu Johnson continued that until and unless the Ministry of Education put in place all the above mentioned, their budget would not be endorsed for approval.
Executive Director, Heal Salone Joseph Sannoh was one of the many amongst the audience who strongly supported the committee’s decision to reject the budget of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology. He confirmed that they were supporting the rejection simply because the said ministry was not accountable and credible enough to be given any more budgets.
He further explained that MEST did the same budget reporting last year with so many lapses and when they stood against it, they were asked to give them a chance to correct their errors. Joseph Sannoh furthered that there were a lot of failures in our educational system as a result of Square Pegs been put in round holes.
He said that the Ministry Education Science Technology presented well over three hundred billion leones budget for the coming year when they are yet to report to the people of Sierra Leone on how they had used previous monies.
“The Education Ministry owes almost all tertiary institutions in this country including the West African Examination Council. Let them go and do their home work well, before asking for more money”. He added.
Joseph Sannoh emphasized that he would stage a nationwide peaceful protest if the Ministry of Education Science and Technology budget happened to be approved.
The question that played on the lips of many at the end of the meeting was; what would happen to the country’s educational system in the coming years, if their budget being restrain?
Efforts to get statements from the Permanent Secretary of MEST proved abortive as he refused granting interview to AYV News.