Hon. Lahai Marah (APC) has said that despite Ebola and the floods, the Government through the Finance Ministry paid salaries of all government workers.
He added however: “As a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, I must state that most MDAs lack prudent financial management structures.
Wastage is killing the economy, we must ask ourselves if monies allocated in the budget are being used judiciously,” he said and cited that some MDA’s are still using outdated financial procedure despite the advent of the Petra Financial package.
Hon. Lahai said Audit Service Sierra Leone is doing extremely well but stressed that internal auditors in MDAs have not being giving a free hand by CAs and PSs stressing that the 2016 budget privileged agriculture, health, tourism and other major sectors that need revamping.
His statements came when Lawmakers in the Sierra Leone Parliament on the second allotted day (yesterday) continued their debate on the Bill titled: “The Appropriation Act, 2016 (Being an Act to authorize expenditure from the Consolidated Fund for the services of Sierra Leone for the year 2016.)”
Making similar and different contributions; Hon. Dr. Dabundeh (APC) said that the budget puts money into people’s pockets and cater for the Ebola recovery plan.
He praised as “significant” allocation to the Health Ministry but stressed the need for “more financial and other resources.”
“If the nation is not healthy it can’t be wealthy, without health everything will be nothing,” he stressed adding that the 2015 budget made Kono a works yard until the outbreak of Ebola which placed Kono far behind in terms of infrastructure and other development.
He said lack of early diagnosis for the people and need for advance therapy is seriously affecting the health sector and suggested for a robust quarterly monitoring for the lots of monies being spent on health service delivery across the country.
Hon. Lahai Marah (APC) expressed his concern about his Koinadugu district which he says is fertile for agriculture and animal-rearing complaining bad roads and poor rural (only a junior secondary school in his constituency) educational services.
“Students have to go to Kabala to attend senior secondary school; the girls are most often impregnated during this process while the boys turn to become okada riders.
The Education Ministry should focus on rural education more for my people at Krobola,” he said, adding that tourism needs a boost in his area where the Bintumani Mountain is located but that due to lack of road accessibility much benefit is not being derived.”
He also complained about over budgeting in estimates of some contractors, adding that inflation is not a bad thing but this view was objected by the Speaker of Parliament.
Hon. J.B Mansaray (SLPP) bashed at the Leader of Government Business in Parliament and Finance Ministry for not apportioning enough money to Parliament.
“Parliament is being stifled; we don’t have bus to go on oversight while the Leader is sitting before us.
We want the Leader of Government Business to do more and make us proud because he has influence over the Finance Minister.
I’m making this criticism because I want to ginger the Leadership,” Hon JB said noting that “Parliament is supreme and has powers but it’s not moving, this time we must be considered as the people’s representatives,” he stated.
He called on the Finance Minister to treat them seriously and urged for speeding up of “snail paced” development.
“The APC has done so much on roads but we should not forget that it was the SLPP that set the foundation,” he reminded.
Hon. Kelfala Conteh (APC) spoke on energy and information and communication technology two sectors that he said were not affected by Ebola and helped fight the Ebola (117).
He praised the improvement in the energy sectors and projected that 2016 the nation shall be having 24hours electricity with what has been financially allocated.
He however, register concern about the lack of consideration for the State Broadcaster SLBC which he says will hinder their move from analog to digital adding telecommunication companies should pay costumers for every drop call as stated in the telecommunications Act.
Hon. Nicholas submitted that much improvement has been achieved following the coming of the one hundred buses and praised the Finance Minister as an exceptional man ever since in the history of the Finance Ministry.
He urged MPs in the opposition to be “appreciative” of the success and accomplishments of the present government adding that the budget is “realistic.”
“The allocation for tourism must be increased for the rehabilitation of Bonthe, Tassoh and other touristic valued sites,” Hon. Nicholas said.
There were also submissions from Hon Dr. Abdulai Sesay (APC) who said Ebola exposed the weak health sector and a lot of health workers are not on payroll but working as hospital volunteers causing huge problems with shortage of personnel.
He appealed for the accountability on use of free health care drugs, “funding gap is causing problem with implementation in the health sector,” he said.
Hon. Salieu Sesay (APC) described the budget as a “transformation” one factoring the aspirations of the President and the government.
He described the Finance Minister as the Cog Douglas of Sierra Leone for his championing of economic and free market economy growth practices.
He encouraged the Finance Ministry to put more premiums on agriculture, fishing, and tourism and commended the 5% increment in the tax of top earners and cautioned for the regulation of mobile money transaction.
Hon. Amadu Fofana (APC) call for said the “ dynamic” budget should create a space for the thriving of SME’s and noted that high interest rate is “killing small businesses,” encouraging MDAs’ to use monies efficiently for the result to be seen and felt by the populace, urging for alertness on tax evasion and flawed.
There were not too different submissions by Hon. Jawara (APC) who praised the economy as “strong,” and Hon. Ibrahim Kamara (APC) who expressed concern about no allocation for HIV/AIDS Secretariat and appealed for money for MPs to conduct oversight visit.
The budget debate ends today in which the final set of eloquent speakers are expected to contribute in the Well and adopt the Act.