PORT LOKO TOWN, Port Loko District, Saturday July 30, 2016// — On Friday July 29, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma led his cabinet to the headquarter town of Port Loko district for discussions on how his government could improve on its performance regarding international benchmarks.

At the two day workshop that ended today Saturday July 30 at the Port Loko District Council, participants from the public sector, Sierra Leone’s development partners, the private sector, and civil society agreed that one of the key factors that has been affecting the country’s ratings in view of international benchmarks is the lack of effective monitoring of development programmes as well as the absence of reliable data.

Addressing the workshop, President Koroma said Sierra Leone has many international benchmarks by which the country and government are being assessed, raked and portrayed in comparison to other countries. The benchmarks he emphasized, are being set by either ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations or other global organizations and each of these organizations has specific indicators that are used to measure how well or not a country performs in a given period.

He noted that over the years, Sierra Leone has been very committed to these international benchmarks but for some time now, much attention has not been given to this all important development process.

In the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for 2000 to 2015, for instance, the President said Sierra Leone had a mixed basket of outcomes. ”We achieved some benchmarks, others we almost met, made progress in many others but did not make progress in many more,” he pointed out. President Koroma stressed that the absence of proper monitoring and evaluation of the implementation and the absence of data for proper reporting on the progress, challenges and recommendations also negatively affected Sierra Leone’s performance. ”We cannot afford to miss out on the SDGs, we must learn from our experience with the MDGs”, he urged

President Koroma underscored the significance of the international benchmarks to good governance and emphasised the need for the government to ensure the availability of accurate information by being in charge of a system that would monitor, generate and disseminate reliable information on its own programmes and activities.

As President Koroma indicated, such a local monitoring system would deny those NGOs and other civil society organisations who depend on negative reporting to attract funding from unfairly maligning the country through inaccurate information and reports.

Caroline Thomas, Coordination Specialist of the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, linked the purpose of the SLIBS workshop to that of information gathering and processing, national pride and resource mobilization. She laid emphasis on the importance of sending out the right information on the country’s achievements on the benchmarks as that will help build the image of the country. Caroline also stated that benchmarks are important triggers for resource mobilisation because the availability of certain funds depend on the fulfilment of some specific benchmarks.

Chairman of the occasion Ambassador Dauda Sulaiman Kamara who doubles as Presidential Adviser informed the gathering that SLIBS is President Koroma‚Äôs initiative deriving from his determination to improve the country’s development prospects and reputation.

Making a PowerPoint presentation, the Coordinator of SLIBS Dr Joseph Sam Sesay said they have figured out 33 benchmarks and that the rationale of the benchmarks is to keep everybody especially ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on their toes in performing their duties. He said international benchmarks are guidelines to achieving sustainable development goals. He appealed to every Sierra Leonean to take the benchmarks seriously.

The workshop which was organized by the Special Advisers to the President was attended by cabinet ministers, traditional leaders, chairmen and mayors of local councils and representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The President’s three Special Advisers ( Ambassador Dauda Kamara, Alhaji Dr Alpha Kanu and Dr Joseph Sam Sesay) have been charged with the responsibility to establish and run the SLIBS.