Finance Ministry Denies Participation in 100 Buses Procurement Scandal
The Director of Public Debt in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Panning, Sahr Jusu has in a statement before the Parliamentary Committees of Finance and Transport denied claim that he and the Finance Minister negotiated and signed the loan agreement with Poly Technology Group for the supply of one hundred buses.
Mr. Jusu who was speaking in Parliament on Friday on the invitation of the Parliamentary committees said neither he nor the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kaifala Marah signed any agreement. “The Minister of Finance and Economic Development did not sign any loan agreement. It is the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma that signed a contract agreement with Poly Technology Group on 12th May 2014. I did not even observe the signing of the contract”, Mr. Jusu said.
The Transport and Aviation Minister had told the same Parliamentary committees earlier on Wednesday that the loan agreement was negotiated by the Public Debt Division of the Ministry of Finance which afterwards signed it. “All of the above represented a package and the proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development which accepted it as a loan package to be negotiated by the Public Debt Division of that Ministry which by statues negotiates all loan agreements and terms and conditions on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone”, Minister Koroma said before the Parliamentary committees.
The Public Debt Director responded to the Transport Minister’s statement as a “complete adverse material misstatement” against him and a deliberate attempt to mislead Parliament and the people of Sierra Leone.
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Mr. Jusu said he was aware that the Minister of Finance has the sole authority to negotiate, sign and lay before Parliament for ratification the terms and conditions of any loan or suppliers credit and recalled that prior to the approval of an executive authority, the Minister of Transport travelled to China at the same time he (Jusu) and the Minister of Finance were scheduled for a visit to South Korea and China on a number of official programs which led to discussions with a number of institutions including the Poly Technology Group.
The Director furthered that before the Finance Minister’s delegation departed China, the Transport Minister had sought Executive Authority to procure 100 buses for the project cost of 12.3 million United States Dollars. He also recalled that the Finance Minister held discussions with the Poly Technology Group on a number of issues including payment schedule for the buses, adding that a number of proposals were made but nothing conclusive was achieved until they left China.
“The discussion in China was inconclusive because we needed to have the final cost of the buses project subject to the technical team (MTA and RTC) agreeing on specification and prices of each item. I have no idea about the engineering design of any vehicle not even a motor bike. The Minister of Finance and I left China, leaving behind the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and RTC”.
Mr. Jusu told the people’s representatives in Parliament that a report in the pro-APC newspaper Awareness Times owned and edited by Sylvia Blyden that he participated in the inspection of the buses in China was totally erroneous and maliciously misleading.
The procurement of one hundred buses has generated controversy around the country with many calling for a judicial investigation into the procurement procedures and to determine cost of the buses that are said to be old.