BUDGET OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE AND CSOs COMMEND DIASPORA AFFAIRS

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They made this commendation on Thursday 16th October 2015 at the Miatta Conference Hall during the bilateral Budget discussions organized by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for MDAs in which ODA participated.

The open Bilateral Budget Discussions is a forum meant for MDAs to do a 20 minutes power point presentation highlighting resources received by their respective MDA in FY2014 and FY2015 to date: activities implemented, success stories, challenges and planned reforms to address shortfalls/challenges. The presentation should also highlight the MDA’s on their budget proposals for the coming financial year  planned activities for FY2016 and how they are linked to the Agenda for prosperity/Post-Ebola Recovery Strategy; Make available the electronic copy of the detailed costing Ms Excel spread sheet of the respective MDA’s activities which can be projected on screen for discussions; present at least 5 key deliverables that can be easily monitored and measured which the MDA believe it can achieve in FY2016 if given the resources being requested, to name, but a few  to certain stakeholders including members of Parliament, the Civil Society, the Press, the District Budget Oversight Committees, Non State Actors, and Community Leaders as part of an effective collaborative approach in formulating the national budget.

In his presentation, ODA’s ITCD Manager, Dr.  Abdulai Dumbuya highlighted and thoroughly explained the government allocation they received in the financial year of 2014 and 2015 to date. He went further to explain activities implemented by ODA. “During the implementation of our activities and programmes, we had challenges, but also we were able to achieve some successes “said Dr. Dumbuya. He further mentioned some of the evidenced based success stories which he said are: (1) increased awareness of the Office of Diaspora Affairs, (2) the opening of ODA desk offices at Gbalamuya, Gendema, Queen Elizabeth Quay and Lungi International Airport. According to ODA’s ITCD Manager, these desk offices are manned by officers who are charged with the responsibility to collect information from Diaspora who are coming into the country as visitors or as returnees.

“To this end, we have got a rich talent database of Sierra Leonean Diasporas with skills and knowledge in various fields like Agriculture, Health etc.”  Dr. Dumbuya furthered that ODA has been embarking on other things including Diaspora investment mapping.

Tamba B. Gbonda, project coordinator of one civil Society group called Movement and Concern for Knowledge to the Youth said ODA has been working on good programmes which are very important to the country’s development. “Their previous budget allocations of FY2014 and FY2015 according to their presentation was nothing good to write home about” he added. He furthered that ODA’s budget proposal for the financial year 2016 is well prepared and linked to the Agenda for Prosperity and the Post Ebola Strategy respectively’’ said Mr. Gbonda.

This Civil Society advocates however appealed to government to increase budget allocation for FY2016 to the Office of Diaspora Affairs so that the Office will be able to implement its activities effectively.