Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2019:
Following debates in the Parliament of Sierra Leone this week, MPs on Wednesday 18th December 2019, approved the government’s Finance Bill entitled: “The Appropriation Act 2020” with major amendments, including the removal of a Clause intended to set the president’s foreign expenses into law.
The Appropriation Act 2020, gives authority to the government to spend from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the 2020 financial year and to provide for other related matters.
In passing the Bill, Parliament granted the sum of Le8.6 Trillion to President Julius Maada Bio to run his government next year, starting from 1st January.
According to the finance minister JJ Saffa, the government’s Budget for 2020 is aimed at addressing what he refers to as “bread and butter” issues, through job creation; micro-credit financing; raising the minimum wage to Le600, 000; providing salary increase for some public sector workers in April 2020; recruiting more teachers, health workers and police officers; start of salary payment to mayors and chairpersons of local and district councils, their deputies and core staff.
The government says that, overall, the 2020 Budget is seeking to consolidate and improve human capital development in the country.
Also in Parliament this week, MPs discovered that the Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa, has overspent his ministerial budget by a whopping Le13 Billion (Leones) from the consolidated fund without the approval of Parliament, on various items such as overseas travelling.
This discovery was announced in parliament by the opposition APC MP – Lahai Marah.
Also, parliamentary proceedings came to a halt as the Speaker of Parliament abruptly stopped the debate, when Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP, showed that the budget proposal of the Ministry of Finance was mysteriously increased from Le 58 billion to Le 82 billion without supporting documents.
Critics are saying that the Minister of Finance who requested unaccountable imprest for the President which has now been thrown out by MPs, now wants his own unaccounted expenditure of US$3.5 million without supporting documentation.
Also this week, the Bill entitled: “The Public Order (Amendment) Act 2019” was introduced and read the first time in Parliament. It was presented by the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray.
The Bill is seeking to amend the Public Order Act of 1965 (Act No. 46 of 1965) by repealing Part V of the Act which deals with defamatory and seditious libel. MPs have asked the Minister of Information and Communications to hold wider consultations with relevant stakeholders about the proposed amendments.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone is now adjourned to the 30th January 2020 for its Christmas and New Year’s break.