The World Bank has continued its collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on the BOOST public expenditure database with the training of staff of the ministry and other units on how to use the tool.
The BOOST initiative is a World Bank wide collaborative effort to facilitate access to expenditure data and promote its effective use for improved fiscal decision making, expenditure analysis and accountability. It uses detailed government expenditure data from the financial management information system and creates an easy-to-use comprehensive database.
The Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone began to work towards building a BOOST since 2012 but a number of factors intervened and the project was delayed.
The tool is now ready and was shared with the Government during a Bank mission to the countryfrom April 24 – 27. The team met with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance to validate the data captured in the BOOST. Discussions were also held ‘on the next steps’.
One of the key highlights of the Bank mission was the organization of a two-day hands-on training (April 25 – 26) for staff of the Ministry of Finance and other divisions on how the BOOST works.
The Bank’s Senior Country Economist for Sierra Leone Kemoh Mansaray, on behalf of the Country Manager, welcomed the participants, who were drawn from the Public Financial Management (PFM) Unit, Development Assistance Coordination Office (DACO), Office of the Accountant General, Public Investment Management (PIM) Unit, and the ICT Unit – all under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED).
He said he was happy that efforts to put in place a BOOST database for Sierra Leone had been revamped with support from the Government, particularly officials from the Ministry of Finance. “Let me use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the Minister of Finance for the great support and collaboration he has provided to the BOOST initiative,” he noted.
The successful implementation of BOOST, according to Mansaray, would improve the rigor and quality of expenditure analysis and provide a more granular view of expenditure data to identify how public funds were being spent.
He referenced Uganda and Moldova as examples of countries where BOOST has been used extensively to estimate relative efficiency, comparing education spending per person and literacy levels for different municipalities, as well as benchmarking the efficiency of their municipalities against global comparators.
He said the tool has been used in several ways including pro-poor analysis, medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) analysis, development and donor spending analysis, and examining sectoral spending.
“It is my sincere hope that Sierra Leone will successfully implement the BOOST,” he concluded.
Mr. Tasima Jah, Deputy Director, Budget Bureau, MoFED, noted that the ministry and the World Bank had been collaborating for a very long time to develop the BOOST initiative, and that they were currently in the stage of conceptualizing it.
He said the tool was one of the benchmarks used by donors to track the support they give to countries and its utilization.“We want to expand our donor support [base], so the onus is on us to effectively use this tool to boost the country’s transparency profile because BOOST is one of the tools used by donors to assess how transparent a country is in its utilization of donor funds,” said Mr. Jah. He requested that the training be cascaded to local councils across the country, and that a coordinated training team be set up with the responsibility to conduct training for staff within various units of the ministry. Training facilitator, Hirut Wolde, Consultant, GGOGS, made a presentation on the analytical applications of BOOST.
The other topics she dealt with include: ‘Using BOOST to answer budget questions’; ‘Overview of the Sierra Leone BOOST’; ‘navigating the Sierra Leone BOOST’; ‘Introduction to the BOOST methodology for expenditure analyses; and ‘Applying BOOST methodology using a country case’.
There were also group exercises on ‘preparing BOOST standard tables’.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.