April 24, 2014
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The Sierra Leone Head of State, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, was recently re-elected as president of the republic for a second time after a landslide victory that saw him grab well over 58% of the national vote. He has also started naming the team to help implement his new Agenda for Prosperity. Among those appointed, is Dr. Kaifala Marah, a former senior advisor on public expenditure management at the Commonwealth secretariat.

Sierra Leone's new Finance and Economic Development Minister - Dr Kaifala Marah

Sierra Leone’s new Finance and Economic Development Minister – Dr Kaifala Marah

Experience: Dr Marah brings a total of 18 years experience in the public sector with emphasis on local, central, parliamentary, financial and economic governance at international levels. Beginning as Deputy Town Clerk at the then Koidu/New Sembehun Town Council to the role of Budget Analyst at the New York State Senate in the USA, where he developed and advised Senate Democratic Conference response to the Governor’s Executive Budget, as well as the Public Authorities Control Board. Whilst in New York Dr Marah was appointed Graduate Fellow at the Centre for International Development to work on international development issues ranging from budget improvement in Mexico – Latin America, to Kenya’s Parliamentary reform in Africa.

Dr Marah attained prominence in financial governance and economic development at the Commonwealth Secretariat as senior advisor on public expenditure management for Commonwealth developing countries. Among many blue-sky initiatives he developed Guidelines for Public Financial Management, and a Country Self Assessment Toolkit on Public Financial Management (CPFM-SAT) – all adopted by finance ministers of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Heads of Government. Dr Marah also created Commonwealth communities of practice on budgeting and public procurement. For example, he initiated the Commonwealth Public Procurement Network (CPPN) and Thematic Fellowship, which have become model delivery mechanisms within the Commonwealth. His specific advice saw the transformation of internal controls and audit in Botswana and Ghana in Africa and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific; reforms of revenue management in Mauritius, budgeting in St Lucia in the Caribbean, and procurement in Nigeria and the Gambia in Africa, Sri Lanka in Asia and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific.

As Chief of Staff to the President of Sierra Leone on secondment from the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Marah created inter-ministerial links and led coordination of the delivery of the Agenda for Change (2008-2012). He advised the President on policy, commissioned technical research, superintended performance contracts of ministries, departments, agencies, tertiary institutions and local councils; provided oversight for the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) – the policy and delivery arm of the Presidency, championed Sierra Leone’s pass for the first time the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) 2012. As Champion of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), he worked with the team to facilitate timely submission of Sierra Leone’s report to the Board. Dr Marah chairs Pre Presidential stocktakes on flagship projects such as the Free Health Care Initiative, Private Sector Development (Investment Climate), Agriculture, etc; coordinates development partner issues on the economy and reforms, and manages diplomatic relations.

Dr Marah is honed in economic and fiscal policy issues through which he has over the years developed professional networks with such institutions as the World Bank, the IMF, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Institute of Public Administration (IPAC) Canada, Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators, Commonwealth Auditors General, etc.

Education: Dr Marah holds a doctorate degree in politics and finance (political economy) from the University of Hull, UK; a Masters in Public Policy from State University of New York, USA, with emphasis on public finance; and a Bachelors degree in international relations and law from FBC, Sierra Leone. He is a series editor on financial governance (Public Finance Journal) and published several thematic articles; and delivered seminars and thematic surgeries on budgeting and finance on all continents in collaboration with such world class institutions as the Singapore Civil Service College.

Awards: Dr Marah was named by the South African based African Leadership Network, a 2012 “New Generation Leader for Africa” chosen from among several thousand candidates by a selection committee. He is also a recipient of the prestigious award: Excellence in International Student Leadership from the State University of New York, USA 2003; he holds a youth-led Excellence Award and National Role Model for Youth in Sierra Leone 2012.

He is a strategic planner, mentor and coach for hundreds of senior policy and professionals across all regions of the Commonwealth. He delivers public lectures on a broad range of policy issues at home and abroad. He was a youth leader, and President of the National Kono Students Union.

Dr. Marah is married and blessed with four children.

First published on Newstime Africa: 12th December 2012

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