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Sierra Leone Business: Over 1,000 retirees removed from govt. payroll

Alimamy Bangura, Director, Economic Policy Research Unit, Ministry of Finance, has disclosed that over 1,000 workers in the government payroll who have attained the retirement age have been removed from the payroll.
Mr Bangura maintained that the system is currently undergoing “cleaning” of ghost workers as they try to link the National Civil Registration biometric data with the government payroll, to ensure an efficient civil service structure thereby reducing the wage burden on government.
Bangura was responding to questions on growth slowdown and macroeconomic imbalances and what next for the government at the launch of the Sierra Leone Economic Outlook (SLEU) prepared by the World Bank.
The ministry he said has developed a payroll reform strategy, which they have started implementing by computerizing the payroll of subvented agencies. Before now “they come in with different levels of payroll each month, recruit and send the bill to government, … so we have stopped that and it is monitored on a month by month basis” said Bangura.
On possible restructuring and automating revenue collection, he responded that they want to improve revenue collection by broadening the tax base and also strengthening tax administration.
“The first place we are losing revenue is due to the widespread duty waivers, but we are coming with a policy to address those leakages as most of the tax collection processes are manual.”
As a result of the manual processes, he noted, “there is a tendency for the tax payer to have some relationship over time with the collector, … with it being automated there is distance between the two. The government is now trying to acquire integrated tax administration systems like the ASYCUDA World and the Electronic Cash Register for GST.”
In the past years especially 2017, fiscal consolidation was very weak, characterized by weak revenue performance and collection along with a rise in expenditure. This he said led to the widening of the budget deficit, which was being refinanced largely by borrowing from the domestic banking system with all its associated problems.
To address this issue, the ministry he said is pursuing fiscal consolidation, to intensify domestic revenue mobilisation and rationalise expenditure. These two measures Bangura said will enable them to reduce the budget deficit and also create fiscal space.
“Once you are able to create the fiscal space you will be able to spend on growth enhancing sectors like agriculture, fisheries, tourism but also on infrastructure. We all know the role of infrastructure in promoting private investment therefore in promoting economic growth, we can also spend on improving human capital” he said.
Giving examples on how they can improve human capital, Bangura said that with government’s efficient spending on health, education and social protection in the short term, he thinks that can help with access to free health care and education.
With access to these two facilities at the basic level, the first thing it does according to Bangura is that it improves the usage by the public, “so you have more enrollment in the educational sector and more people accessing the health facilities.”
Accessibility helps ease up resources from households not to spend on health and education as they can now concentrate more on consumption and investment. When government takes up that particular burden it helps to improve the quality of productive labour through education and when there are skilled labour it attracts foreign investors.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Monday July 02, 2018.

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