The Fourth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone on Monday 16th November 2015 commenced a three day (as amended by the House SO 65 suspended) on the Bill titled ‘The Appropriation Act, 2016’ (being an Act to authorize expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services of Sierra Leone for the year 2016) presented and read in the Well of Parliament for the second reading by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Kaifala Marah.
In their various contributions to the debate, MP’s expressed similar and diverge views on the proposed 2016 budget.
Hon. Hassan Sheriff Chairman Finance Committee of Parliament (APC) said that the budget look at what has been done and what is expected to be done from a monetary perspective.
He cautioned colleague MPs not to see that debate from a winner or losers views but to accurately debate to inform the public and constituents.
He commended the Finance Ministry and noted that the Ebola outbreak had dominated the last budget.
Ebola he said caused low revenue mobilization, huge expenditure and diversion of funds to boost the Ebola fight and health sector.
He also thanked international partners and encouraged MP’s not to politicize the budget but to look at it realistically for the benefit of the nation. “I want to see changes in health, education, agriculture.
I want to see a lot more changes in energy especially more funds for country and district headquarters towns electrification,” and urged for proper monitoring.
Hon. Sheriff also calls on the Finance Ministry to allocate funds to the PAC, ASSL, ACC, and Finance Committee for thorough monitoring.
He said the increment of the salaries of Councilors and Council Chairmen is timely and appealed for this kind of message to be disseminated by MPs when to go back to their people.
He stressed his plea for more resources to be given to Parliament so that they can conduct their oversight function and highlighted issues of votes controlling, tax evasion and mobilization, low inflation rate among other things.
Hon. Kaisamba (SLPP) thanked the preparers of the budget but stressed that if huge financial allocation is going to the health ministry then they must cover gaps as the ministry was exposed by Ebola.
He cautioned for the prudent use of funds allocated to the Education ministry as he said much is yet to be desired of that ministry particular at the primary, secondary and tertiary level.
“The energy ministry has been allocated huge sum of money but there are still huge challenges with sustainable electricity supply.
We want to see sustainable and continuous electricity in our household,” and criticized the way and manner the Ministry of Works has treated his Kenema district unevenly when it comes to road construction.
“Government has made strides in some part of the country but there are still huge challenges.
Some district including Kenema have not benefited at all, we are at the bottom of the service delivery index,” complaining that his constituents are constantly molesting them as MPs for the city’s trunk road (Blama, Hanga etc).
He urged for the publication of the Parliamentary Committee’s report on the purchase of 100 and cautioned that more money should not be allocated in cases where Ministries have not being able to accountably report on their expenses.
Hon. Albert Deen Kamara (APC) highlighted that the sum of $ 867 million had been repackage by donors and went through hands of NGO’s and not the government stating that Ebola was a major offset and risk to the last budget.
He said: “I want to encourage MPs to go and tell their people to pay their taxes.”
Hon. Alhaji Seray Dumbuya (APC) described the budget as structural adjustment one and praised President Ernest Koroma for being transparent and allowing the audit of the management of Ebola funds.
Hon. Saidu Mansaray (SLPP) said that the Minister should not influence Parliament intellectually because it’s well formed.
He described the budget as intention and not action based contrary to that of the President’s slogan.
He said: “salaries of teachers have been increased but they have to save for months to be able to buy a laptop computer.
This is why I say the salary increments are not in line with the standards of living.
Salaries of Councilors and Mayors have been increased but they have to save for months to be able to go on a vacation.
The Minister and this government must stabilize inflation like in the days of the SLPP,” and he blasted the way Kenema has been treated when it comes to road which he described as an eyesore.
Hon. Moiwa Momoh (SLPP) described the budget as unclear and noted that the Minister has used the Ebola situation to be unspecific.
“The budget is based on too many assumption; iron ore prices, Chinese economy, donor funding etc,” but commended the government for awarding the Pendembu road contract to ISU.
There were other submissions from; Hon. Dr. Roland Kargbo (APC) who highlighted that despite the Ebola the government never failed to pay it workers and also made salary increments.
He also commended NRA for surpassing it revenue generation target.
Hon. Mabinty Fonah (APC) call for improvement in SME’s as the country scored well in the recent MO Ibrahim index which she said is a testament of the democratic good governance of the country.