President Bio dissolves Boards of parastatals and other state institutions

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 June 2018:

Following growing public demand for a big shake up of all quangos and state enterprises in Sierra Leone by the newly elected government, led by president Julius Maada Bio, a public statement was issued by State House yesterday, Tuesday 26 June 2018, informing the country that all “oversight boards of parastatals and other state institutions are hereby dissolved with effect from today, Tuesday 26th June 2018.”

This will come as good news for critics of the previous Koroma led APC government, which they say was infested with corruption, after last week’s report of government departments owing over $1 Billion debt to private contractors, despite the previous government’s budget showing that the money was available for payment.

President Koroma and his ministers are being accused of cooking the books to cover up grand corruption in Sierra Leone.

Although the dissolving of parastatals and state enterprise Boards will spark another controversy after the president’s recent sacking of top officials previously appointed by president Koroma, those calling for change in Sierra Leone say that the president must conduct a complete overhaul of all government institutions if he is to succeed in transforming the public sector and implement culture change.

Many of the state enterprises and parastatals have become self-serving and unaccountable, says critics.

Successive reports published by the country’s Auditor General’s Office, bear testament to massive evidence of corruption and waste of resources in those institutions. This is what the public statement issued by State House yesterday, says:

RESTRUCTURING OF BOARDS/ COMMISSIONS/ AUTHORITIES/ AGENCIES

“Government is in the process of restructuring management/oversight boards of parastatals and other state institutions. As an initial step in this process, oversight boards of parastatals and other state institutions are hereby dissolved with effect from today, Tuesday 26th June 2018.

“Until new oversight boards of parastatals and other state institutions are appointed through the power of appointment vested in His Excellency the President as provided in section 70 of Act No. 6 of 1991, the management of parastatals and other state institutions are strongly advised to seek clarification with the Secretary to the President on any decision requiring the approval of boards.

“Oversight boards which have been recently appointed in May and June 2018 and the following management/oversight boards are exempt from this notice: National Electoral Commission; Judicial and Legal Service Commission; Law Reform Commission; Sierra Leone Teaching Service Commission; and the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards

“For any clarification on this notice, please contact the Secretary to the President.” (End).

But responding to this announcement yesterday, the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the Koroma led APC government – Joseph Franklyn Kamara (Photo) said that:  “The latest Executive Order dissolving Boards of Parastatals and State Institutions is yet again beyond the powers conferred on the Presidency. The action is palpably illegal.

“There are Boards that have tenure under the Statutes that created them, such as the ACC Board, under Section 22(5) of the 2008 Act, (5 year term), Legal Aid Board Act 2012, Section 5(1) for a 3 year term (to name but a few). The tenure of such Boards cannot be terminated by any means except that enacted by Parliament.

“Those functions assigned to the Board by Statute cannot be performed by any other entity. Not even the Office of the President can substitute the Board. The executive power to hire and fire is at all times subject to the Constitution and any other law.

“Therefore such executive powers are neither absolute or unrestricted. Until the specified term of office of such Boards expire, not even the President has powers to dissolve them without recourse to Parliament.”

But such criticisms from the opposition APC is unlikely to ruffle the feathers of the newly elected president Bio, who says that his mandate is to change Sierra Leone for the better through his New Direction Agenda.

Critics of the previous APC government say that APC were in power for over a decade and did very little in tackling corruption, waste of resources, poor productivity, unaccountability and mismanagement in the public sector, and therefore has no moral ground upon which to stand and criticise the new government for taking decisive action to reform the public sector.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that far more bigger changes are in the pipeline, once the government’s Transition Committee Report is published, which sources say is riddled with evidence of corruption, presided over by former president Koroma, on a grotesque scale.

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