GOVERNANCE & RULE OF LAW
The GoSL is led by a President elected directly by the people and who is also the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Within the GoSL, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has oversight of policies relating to domestic and international trade. SLIEPA is responsible for policies to improve the investment climate, promote local and export trade and encourage the development of small-to-medium-sized businesses. SLIEPA has thus far focused on FDI in key economic sectors including agriculture, marine resources, mining, energy and tourism.
A system of local government was established by the Local Government Act 2004. It comprises 19 councils: five city councils, one municipal council and 13 district councils. The Decentralisation Secretariat was established under the World Bank’s Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project to promote decentralisation.
RULE OF LAW
Sierra Leone’s Constitution contains certain investment protections, such as the right not to be deprived of one’s property, described further below. There are numerous provisions that uphold the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.
The Supreme Court has power to rule on all matters relating to the interpretation of the Constitution and in relation to any question concerning whether Parliament, or any other authority, has exceeded its powers. Parliamentary Committees also have a duty to investigate the activities and administration of the executive Ministries.
Transparency and accountability
Sierra Leone is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption. Domestically, the ACC, established under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000, as amended in 2008, is the body responsible for investigating allegations of, and educating the public on, corruption. In March 2008 Sierra Leone ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, five years after it became a signatory.
Sierra Leone scored 3.0 out of 6.0 for transparency, accountability, and corruption in the public sector ratings (where 1.0 indicates low transparency levels and 6.0 high transparency levels) on the World Bank’s 2014 Country Policy and International Assessment. In 2015, Sierra Leone ranked 119 out of 175 in CPI, with a score of 29/100.
While there is still work to be done, Sierra Leone is heading in the right direction, with a key outcome in the GoSL’s JSRSIP III being the strengthening of anti-corruption institutions and mechanisms. It is encouraging that Sierra Leone has seen a general improvement in its CPI ranking over the past six years. The 2015 Index put Sierra Leone ahead of 20 other sub-Saharan African countries including common investment destinations such as Nigeria and Kenya. On a global level, Sierra Leone’s ranking surpasses many other emerging investment markets.
Sierra Leone has made significant efforts to regulate the procurement process to ensure transparency and accountability in public procurement. The NPPA, which was established under the Public Procurement Act of 2004 (repealed and replaced with the Public Procurement Act of 2016), is mandated with the task of overseeing and monitoring procurement across MDAs and local councils, building capacity and assisting with policy formulation. The NPPA has made significant reforms to the public procurement system, creating regulations to support the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, developing user-friendly manuals for compliance with the regulations, and producing standard bidding documents and requests for proposals. The NPPA does not have enforcement powers however it can refer any cases of non-compliance with procurement laws to the ACC.
Sierra Leone’s Audit Service established in 1998, works to ensure greater accountability, efficiency and effectiveness in the distribution and use of public funds. In 2014, the Service had its mandate to audit and report on all public accounts of Sierra Leone extended. Its remit covers all public bodies including central and local government and the judiciary. The Service has the power to disallow unlawful expenditure and recover monies due through litigation.
The Right to Access Information Act was implemented in 2013, providing access to information held by public bodies. The GoSL has built on this by launching an Open Data Portal in May 2015. The Portal makes accessible information on economic recovery and public services as well as open contracting data, budget data and data on development assistance.
A medium-term Public Finance Management Reform Strategy has been developed for the period 2014-2017 to improve the credibility and transparency of fiscal and budget management under the new Public Financial Management Improvement and Consolidation Project, funded by the GoSL and the Multi-Donor Budget Support Partnership (made up of the World Bank, EU, DFID and the AfDB).