As Change Agents; Chief Minister Endorses NRA

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He said he was wondering why he was invited to give the Keynote Address, knowing fully well that he is not a politician, but a simple Technocrat with a political instinct, and not being an expert on tax administration and Management, nor an expert on domestic revenue mobilization or Financial governance issues.

“So, why was I invited? I realized that I am one of the greatest supporters of NRA and the leadership must have smartly picked on my soft spot for this institution.” He said

As Chief Minister of the government, he said his main task is to make government Ministries, agencies and departments function effectively and efficiently in Service delivery, put simply, his role he said is to enforce efficient service delivery across government.

He said we cannot deliver services if we do not have the resources and money to pay for essential services and this is where his affection for NRA comes from.

Chief Minister’s said his huge support and commitment to NRA was predicated on two important reasons.

First, given the fact that the government inherited a Near Bankrupt state, and faced with the worst Economic Crisis since independence to the point that the country’s dept service obligation make up 68% of our GDP and one of the highest in the world, the NRA came to the rescue.

Know that the NRA has been in the forefront of Domestic Revenue Mobilization and has made it possible in the past eight months for the new administration to pay public sectors salaries and for the new government to start the implementation of its flagship program, Free Quality education, without resort to Bank overdraft facility or a single penny from our development partners.

For this, he referred to NRA as the unsung Heroes of the new administration and asked for a round of applaud for NRA’s commitment to the New Direction.

 But could not recommend salary increase at this stage.

He said his second reason for supporting NRA was that, without all realizing it, NRA has helped the New Direction Government to WIN the ideological battle with our development co-operation partners.

“We have firmly told our development partners that we are a Government that is in full control and firmly in control and we determine our strategic priorities and core National Interests and that we expect them to work with us and not to tell us what to do.

At first, they did not believe us because they assume we have inherited a near Bankrupt State, we will soon come running to them for money and resources to deliver services and that they will use this as a political leverage and a mechanism of control to tell us what to do and even set our strategic priorities for us based on their own interests.” He stated.

Chief Minister said what the development partners did not know and realize was that they now have a committed and robust NRA that is genuinely committed to National Development and the New Direction.

Because of NRA role in Domestic Revenue Mobilization, the New Government now has international respect and credibility. For the very simple reason that we cannot say we are in control if we cannot pay for our bills and pay for essential Services. He said they have not gone to their Development partners with ‘Cap-in-hand’ or on their kneels begging them for money.

Because of NRA, he said the new Government has won the ideological Battle with their development cooperation partners and have restored the dignity and respect of Sierra Leone and for once, they have now laid the foundation for the end of poverty Mentality in Sierra Leone. He said he cannot tell the gathering the countless and forceful brushing battles he has to fight with their Development Partners to let them simply understand that they are now in control and that the President is determined to ensure that this happens on a long-term basis.

Chief Minister said his message was simple, saying NRA is a great and critical institution at the heart of the change and Transformation that the President wants to effect in Sierra Leone today and NRA can make it happen.

He said without the critical resources, they cannot deliver the services the people expect and demand from this new administration.

As Chief Minister, he reassures NRA of the Government’s support and commitment to make NRA a leading example of the New Direction Administration.

He concludes by boldly challenging the NRA to achieve the following:

1. Effective and efficient management of NRA to make it fit for purpose.

2. Root out all corrupt practices within the institution and make sure that any NRA staff involved in the business as usual corrupt practices must face the full force of the law and must not only be sacked but must be investigated and if found guilty, must be imprisoned as an example to others.

3. That the NRA leadership support the amendment of the 2002 NRA act and, in particular, to remove the lucrative and rather disgraceful remuneration package given to the NRA board, …

He said he was sorry for the board invited a plane speaker, so that is exactly what he was doing to support NRA for the national good.

4. That NRA achieve by 2021 the 20% of GDP target making up the Domestic Revenue Mobilization. He said if they achieve the said target, He will support the NRA leadership to make a strong case for 5-10% salary increase for all staff.

He said that was an attractive incentive to work for and together, let them make NRA the best service provider institution in the country that we all can be proud of.