The Ministry of Defense has yesterday presented to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development their revised budget for the 2017 fiscal year requesting for Le 87billion for the smooth running of their operation in and out of the country at the Miatta Conference Hall Brookfield’s in Freetown.
Presenting the budget the Director General of the Ministry of Defence Sanah J Marrah said their 2017 budget was revised to Le 87billion considering the economic situation in the country and for the Defense Ministry to be effective and operational.
He said currently each personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is receiving a bag of rice costing over Le22 billion per year.
He noted that recruitment of 300 soldiers was not implemented due to inadequate funding from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
He also noted that they have also cut 30% of their expenditure due to lack of finances from the Government of Sierra Leone.
Speaking on their achievements on a Power Point presentation for the financial year 2016, he said they have reconstructed housing unit’s two military barracks at Wilberforce and Gondama village in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.
He also explained about the rehabilitation of the Daru Barracks, hospital and accommodation for doctors and nurses and also rehabilitated a community school at Daru.
He said 4 out of the 8 houses are near completion at Wilberforce and also spoke about Military assistance provided by the People’s Republic of China.
He also highlighted some key deliverables they did not achieve which includes establishment of a Battalion size barracks in Kambia amongst others.
He said contract for rice alone is costing Le24billion whilst medical supply for the army and civilians are Le15billion and fuel Le 9billion.
To cushion the economic distress on the procurement of rice the ministry of defense will be cultivating over 250 hectares of boli-land around Magban in the Moyamba district for rice production that will be used to supply the army.
The Chief of Defense Staff John Milton said the 2017 budget also requested for the establishment of defense attaches to China and Ethiopia which is meant to provide security for visitors and to also support defense diplomacy and lobbying for support from partners.
The CDS also spoke about the operational challenges and lack of accommodation for soldiers across the country after a visit recently.
He said ‘I don’t want to comment on the auditor general’s report as we are in the process to respond appropriately he said most of it is centered on receipts.
The air wing of the army is also operational but we lack the logistics to do our work.
Concluding on the war wounded he said when he assumed office he engaged them and investigated with options with the involvement of Office of National Security but finance ministry is on the verge of addressing the issue and verification will soon start. He stressed.
The Auditor General Reports detected in the ministry of defence “overpricing” with over $12.5 million stolen, as well as possible mis-procurement in construction contracts.
As part of the procurement process, draft contract agreements are to be submitted to the Solicitor-General for vetting and advice. In respect of a contract for the supply of arms and ammunition in the amount of $45,898,250 the Solicitor-General advised “… the Performance Bond to be provided by the contractor should have a validity period covering the entire contract period”.
The budget hearing was chaired by Ansu Tucker Principal Deputy Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development aided by civil society groups, media and non-state actors.