Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget (SL0015)
Action Plan: Sierra Leone National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Finance and Economic Development National Revenue Authority Anti-Corruption Commission International Budget Partnership; Transparency International, Citizen Budget Watch, Budget Advocacy Network
Policy AreasAccess to Information, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Public Participation, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Social Accountability, Tax
Status quo or problem/ issue to be addressed
If you want to fight poverty, you need to care about budgets. They are the government’s most powerful tool to meet the needs and priorities of a country and its people. Public budgets are the blueprints on how the government will raise and spend the public funds needed for the policies and programs that will translate its priorities into action. There is no feedback mechanism from the budget discussion process to know the extent to which citizen inputs are incorporated or not in the budget, and improvements must be made in communicating the budget statements and other related information through accessible media.
Tax exemption granted by the government are a major reason for Sierra Leone’s low tax revenues. Some of the tax exemptions granted are not utilized for the purpose they are granted and as such the country loses twice. Information around tax exemption is not published which would have helped citizens to monitor the use of these exemptions.
To make budget data (Pre-budget statement and Mid-year report), Parliament audit committee reports and tax exemptions publicly available and increase citizen participation in the budget process.
Brief Description of Commitment (140 character limit)
This commitment is geared towards the government publishing the pre-budget and mid review budget and also publish all tax exemptions in an open data format. In addition it will provide feedback mechanism to citizens on their inputs into the budget.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 4. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget
This commitment is geared towards the government publishing the pre-budget and mid review budget and also publish all tax exemptions in an open data format. In addition, it will provide feedback mechanism to citizens on their inputs into the budget.
- Publish, in a timely manner, the budget reports each budget year: the MTEF and a mid-year review as these two reports are still not yet published by the Government of Sierra Leone. (Pre- budget for 2017 and 2018 and mid-year review budget for 2016, 2017 and 2018)
- In line with the Public Financial Management Act 2016, publish all tax exemptions, on a half yearly basis starting 2016 in government website
- Publish Budget data (a pre-budget statement; the executive’s budget proposal; the enacted budget; a citizens’ budget; in-year reports on revenues collected, expenditures made and debt incurred; a mid-year review; year-end report; and audit reports) online, in machine-readable formats
- Provide and publish the detailed feedback on how public perceptions have been captured and taken into account on the budget discussion process during the formation stage.
Responsible institution: Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Supporting institution(s): National Revenue Authority, Anti-Corruption Commission, International Budget Partnership, Transparency International, Citizen Budget Watch, Budget Advocacy Network.
Start date: July 2016 End date: June 2018
This commitment aimed to improve budget transparency by publishing more budget information as part of a government strategy to promote public financial management. Specific efforts to promote transparency in all budgets were outlined in the three-year public financial management strategy published by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in 2014.
There was limited progress on the commitment by the midterm. The government’s annual budget statements for 2016 and 2017 contained the executive’s budget proposal, the enacted budget, and statements of revenue collected and debt incurred (Milestone 3). The government produced and distributed the 2016 Citizens’ Budget (Milestone 3). The remaining activities were not performed; these included publishing pre-budget statements, publishing all tax exemptions on a government website, and publishing feedback on how public perceptions have been captured and accounted for in budget formation discussions. For more information, please see the 2016−2018 midterm report. 
End of term: Limited
Milestone 1: After the midterm, the government published the budget for financial year 2017 in November 2016 and for financial year 2018 in October 2017.  The MoF also published budget review reports in the course of 2016−2017, and 2018.
Milestone 2: From the researcher’s crosscheck of the MoF’s website, the MoF did not publish tax exemptions during implementation of the action plan.
Milestone 3: Pre-budget statements were not published for the 2017 and 2018 budgets. The government’s annual budget statements for the two years contained the executive’s budget proposal, the enacted budget, and statements of revenues collected and debt incurred. MoF produced fiscal reports detailing in-year revenues collected, expenditures made, and debt incurred. 
Milestone 4: According to the researcher’s crosscheck of the MoF’s website, the government did not publish detailed feedback on how public perceptions were captured or accounted for in the budget formation for the 2017 and 2018 government budgets.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
Citizens do not have access to adequate budget information in Sierra Leone, as shown by the country’s low ranking in the Open Budget Index.  Tax exemptions have been a serious concern in Sierra Leone, with NGOs pressing for greater transparency.  The commitment did not increase transparency around tax exemptions, as there was no new disclosure of information. The government did not publish detailed feedback on how they account for public opinion in budget formation, making it difficult to identify whether citizens influenced the 2017 and 2018 government budgets.
The government had not released the third action plan at the time of this report. The commitment should be carried forward with a focus on addressing the issues responsible for Sierra Leone’s low Open Budget Index score, as highlighted in the 2017 report. 
 Charlie Hughes, Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (OGP, 9 Jul. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sierra-leone-mid-term-report-2016-2018-year-1/.
 International Budget Partnership, “Sierra Leone” (2017), https://www.internationalbudget.org/open-budget-survey/results-by-country/country-info/?country=sl.
 See Mark Curtis, Losing Out: Sierra Leone's massive revenue losses from tax incentives (Budget Advocacy Network, National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives, and Tax Justice Network-Africa, Apr. 2014), http://curtisresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/Losing-Out.-Final-report.-April-2014.pdf.
 International Budget Partnership, 'Sierra Leone' (2017).