In a bid to create a conducive atmosphere for all categories of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) and to ensure that they live independently in a dignified manner the executive secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD) Saa Kortequee has on Monday 12th October, 2020 presented a budget of 10,093,000,000.00 ten billion and ninety-three million for the 2021 Financial Year (FY 2021) at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room at George Street in Freetown.
He said as a statutory body, the National Commission for Persons with Disability was established by an Act of Parliament to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, achieve equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities and to provide for other related matters which means that the task given to NCPD by the Act are enormous and that there is huge need for financial, human and Technical support to the Commission.
Presenting the budget, Saa Kortequee revealed that the budget ceiling given to the Commission was two billion and one hundred million (2,100,000,000) and that they have exceeded the Ceiling by seven billion and ninety-three million (7,093,000,000.00).
Justifying the budget, NCPD scribe said to ensure the wellbeing of persons with disabilities, Life Skills and Livelihood Empowerment of PWDs/Centers will be constructed and renovations will be carried out on existing structures in all the regions adding that *”we are asking the Government to provide us with 5,098,000,0000 which is half of the submitted budget and is geared towards capital development”* he accentuated.
He said the Commission will undertake enforcement of Compliance with Public Infrastructure accessibility Legislation and Policies, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of Disability Issues; Outreach to Communities and Institutions to increase awareness on inclusion and popularization on PWD Act of 2011. He furthered that increase in Staff strength and Institutional capacity building, general administrative and operating cost formed part of the budget.
Saa Kortequee further stated that in line with gender budgeting and other budgeting guidelines the Commission took into consideration the number of women and men with disabilities who should be reached, empowered and included in service delivery; *“NCPD in the 2021 plan has budgeted for the empowerment of more centres with women with disabilities, with a percentage of 45% for male and 55% for women in all interventions”* he explained.
Giving retrospection on some of the successes of the Commission in the 2019/2020 FY he said the Commission supported over 24 DPOs to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 on their livelihood sources nationwide; facilitated the admission of over 500 students in tertiary educational institutions, gave direct support to help access medical services; provided technical support to the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) to provide Covid-19 Support to PWDs during the lockdown and the current Cash Transfer Project for PWDs, Join in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 by raising awareness and providing support to individual PWDs and conducted an Accessibility Audit and now launched the First Accessibility Report on Key institutions of governance.
Highlighting some of the challenges, Saa Kortequee revealed that NCPD is understaffed with only one staff at Regional Level and also there are no vehicles in the Commission.
In his statement Chairman of the Commission James Taiwo Cullen pleaded with the Government of Sierra Leone to provide the necessary support to the Commission in order to materialize the vision of President Maada Bio in the New Direction.