Fighting corruption in Sierra Leone

Restless Development is delivering a programme to improve public financial management (PFM) in Sierra Leone, by providing technical assistance to the government.

It aims to improve revenue collection and strengthen public financial management and anti-corruption institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The project is in line with the priorities of the government, who have placed a strong emphasis on increased tax collection, improving expenditure management and delivering education and healthcare, hence interest and expectations of these services are high and management of public funds needs to be able to withstand scrutiny from all quarters.

The project will improve budget planning and credibility, financial control, accountability, and oversight in government finances.

This will support the Government to deliver a multi-year budget in-line with the country’s poverty reduction strategy and be more accountable for doing so.

Restless Development is working as a part of a group of three organisations implementing this accountability programme, which is being funded by UK Aid through the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), with Christian Aid as the lead of the consortium. We are delivering the programme in across all 16 districts of Sierra Leone.

Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Sierra Leone and this has weakened the already weak public service delivery, which has led to citizens having little motivation to pay their taxes.

Early reforms have been positive, but there is still a wide range of issues to be tackled. Budgets are not open, data on service delivery is weak, accountability systems are not operating effectively, and corruption is widespread at all levels (from common reports of small-scale bribery in health centres and schools, to the perception that government officials are corrupt).

At Restless Development, we are supporting 64 Youth Accountability Volunteers (34 men and 30 women) who recently came together in Bo for a ten day residential foundation training.

At their foundation training, the volunteers learned new skills such as community mobilisation strategies and took part in practical sessions on data collection.

A group of volunteers smiling at the Foundation Training
Volunteers at their Foundation Training

Data collection

Our volunteers will be conducting taxpayer perception surveys on tax collection, tax processes and how their taxes are used.

The idea is to increase citizen’s engagement on the tax system in Sierra Leone to improve the generation of public funds, which will aid the government revenue target, which increased from 14.3% to 15.4% GDP in 2019.

The volunteers will also be conducting a perception survey on the cost of corruption, where they will be visiting individual households, targeting young people and adults.

The project has helped me improve my knowledge of public financing. It has been good to be involved in helping the government be accountable to citizens.

Promise, one of the youth accountability volunteers

Sharing our findings

One way that the findings from the surveys will be shared is through the media – newspapers, radio, TV, and also social media.

The findings will aid the government to increase revenue collection and monitor tax-related decision making.

They will also help inform the Anti-Corruption Commission and relevant government authorities to understand the root causes of corruption and how it can be addressed.

Engaging the general public

We will hold feedback meetings on the tax and corruption perception survey reports with relevant leaders and representatives from the government, district councils, city councils, and community leadership.

This is to increase citizen’s awareness of tax collection and accountable use of taxpayer’s money, and their understanding of the cost of corruption.

It is hoped that this project will begin to shift behaviour on issues of tax and corruption. When citizens and leaders understand the issues around tax and corruption better, then a national conversation can begin.

You can listen here (English) or here (Krio) to the jingle that we broadcast on radio stations in Sierra Leone!

If you want to be further inspired by young people leading our programmes in Sierra Leone, see more about all programmes being delivered in Sierra Leone here.

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