Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 November 2018:
The Welfare Committee of Parliament yesterday, Wednesday 7th November 2018, called on the Financial Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to submit the country’s public sector wages structure and salary details to Parliament.
According to report from the Parliament Communications Unit, the committee says it wants this information, so that parliament can debate the restructuring and harmonisation of the salaries of ministries, departments and agencies of government to ensure that payments are in line with what the nation can afford.
Speaking to Journalists and Civil Society Organizations on the proposed salary increase for MPs, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Welfare and Legislative Committee, Daniel B. Koroma MP, called for “all salaries for both public and civil servants be looked into and harmonized in the best interest of the country”.
He also called on the media and civil society organizations to work with MPs in their efforts to harmonize the country’s public sector salaries structure.
He said that MPs are “paid around Le12 Million and other public sector heads are paid above Le70 Million”, and that this is “unfair to the elected representatives of the people”.
“Salaries should be harmonized in the best interest of the economy and the people of Sierra Leone. This year’s budgetary debate will be focused on cutting budgetary expenditure and the harmonization of the country’s pay roll,” he said.
Ibrahim Tawa Conteh MP, who is the Deputy Chairman of the Welfare Committee said “as representatives of the people, we are working in the best interest of the country and we also want to reveal that plans are underway to reduce budgetary expenditure and leakages”, during the course of debating the Government’s 2019 Budget.
He said that any discrepancy in the public sector wage bill must be a leakage in government finances, and called on the media and Civil Society to “help MPs fight a just cause”.
Foday Mario Kamara MP – the Deputy Leader of NGC in Parliament, said in solidarity with his colleagues that “MPs are together in the fight for their welfare and conditions to be improved.”
“It is our constitutional right and the right of every Sierra Leonean to advocate for their welfare,” he argued.
“We are not fighting with anybody but we are fighting for our right,” he said.
According to the Parliament Communications Unit report, members of civil who spoke during the debate in parliament, supported the MPs call for the harmonization of the Wage Bill to ensure that it reflects the current state of the economy.
But they called for transparency, accountability and their continued involvement in the debate until the matter reaches its logical conclusion.
In another development in parliament yesterday, 7th November 2018, MPs unanimously voted to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement is aimed at promoting trade liberalization in Africa.
Speaking prior to ratification, the Minister of Trade and Industry Peter Bayuku Konte highlighted the importance of the free trade Agreement. He said that the Agreement will cover an African market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion across all 55 Member States of the African Union.
“It will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.” Konte also said that the Agreement will progressively eliminate tariffs on intra- African trade, aimed at making trade easier for businesses within the continent.
The Leader of the NGC – Kandeh Yumkella MP (Photo), said that the Agreement is important for Africa and the African Union.
He also said that the AU is “moving from a political organization to an economic player”.
Speaking on the need for ratifying the Agreement, Dr. Yumkella said that “it had been debated and deliberated upon in the Pan-African Parliament for enactment and domestication in other national parliaments in Africa”.
The Leader of C4C – Saa Emerson Lamina MP, supported the ratification of the Agreement and commended the government of President Bio for signing it.
He recalled that as a Member of the ACP-EU Parliament a lot of deliberations had been done on the Agreement geared towards smoothening bilateral trade liberalization for Africa.
In rounding up the debate, the Leader of the Opposition – Chernor R.M Bah MP, welcomed the decision of the government to sign the free trade Agreement.
He said that the ECOWAS Parliament had spent ten days in Abidjan deliberating on the need for a free trade Agreement for Africa, whilst encouraging the Ministry of Trade to do all within its power to ensure that Sierra Leone derive huge benefits from the free trade Agreement.
concluding the debate, the Leader of Government Business – Sidie M. Tunis MP, described the Agreement as “important for the development of the country, especially in the area of small and medium enterprises”.
He said that the Agreement is good for Africa, particularly for the development and promotion of trade in Sierra Leone.
Source Credit: Sierra Leone Parliament Department of Public Relations.