Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2018:
The debate on president Bio’s five year plans for developing Sierra Leone entered its second day in parliament yesterday, Tuesday 29th May 2018, with the Chief Whip of the Parliament – Alusine Kanneh of the SLPP commending President Bio and described him as “a man of integrity”.
According to report from the Department of Public Relations in Parliament, MP Kanneh applauded president Bio for focussing on issues that are related to disability, and the need for the improvement of education in the country.
Recalling former APC MPs – Alhassan Kamara and Amadu Fofanah who could not come to Parliament because of laws relating to dual citizenship, he urged president Bio to look into those laws as he promised. He referred to Sierra Leoneans with dual nationality as “our brothers and sisters who had gone to seek greener pastures overseas and are also contributing to national development, through remittances.”
Kanneh also commented on the construction of a health post in his constituency in Kenema District, with assistance from Norway. He criticised the APC for the spate of of violence meted out on SLPP supporters when APC were in power.
Responding, MP Rugiatu R. Kanu of the APC thanked President Bio for his developmental aspirations that are embedded in the “New Direction” strategy. Commenting on Bio’s free education proposal, she said it was initiated by the late President Kabbah and continued by former President Koroma.
She called on the SLPP government to ensure that teaching and learning materials are made available to the intended beneficiaries, whilst applauding the former APC government for “cleaning the payroll of teachers and removing teachers with fake certificates”.
To succeed in the implementation of the free education initiative, she encouraged the Ministries of Education to utilize community structures, ensure the approval and recruitment of trained and qualified teachers, review and improve the conditions of service for teachers, reduce overcrowding in schools, and continue with training for current and new teachers in order to improve their skills.
MP Rugiatu Kanu appealed for the removal of barriers preventing women from accessing loans; to review the Education Act of 2004 in line with the input of development partner such as UNICEF, with the aim of improving access for the education and development of the girl-child.
MP Alpha Amadu Bah of APC commented on land related challenges, such as overcrowding. He appealed to President Bio not to remove the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the Office of the President and place it under the supervision of the Ministry of Lands. He called for a comprehensive assessment and re-examination of the work of the EPA, before it could be taken over by the Ministry of Lands, if at all.
He also called for the allocation of lands in the right-of-way, including bridges, and blamed President Bio for mentioning the construction of roads in the Southern part of the country, without talking about the Hill Side By-Pass Road connecting the Eastern part of Freetown, aimed at reducing traffic congestion, travel time, and the promotion of trade and other activities.
SLPP MP – Mustapha Sellu in his submission, described President Bio as “disciplined, focused and a man of fortitude”, whilst speaking on the huge potential of revenue generation in the marine sector, which he estimated at “100 Million USD” per annum, which he said the past regime did not pay much attention to it.
He said that under the “New Direction”, the marine sector will attract huge revenue for Government and create jobs for the youths. Quoting former President Koroma whom he said, “promised to lay his life for the youth”, he said the “New Direction” is aimed at improving the skills of our youth to enable them gain access to jobs.
He also called for the review of the Mining Act, with the view to ensure that mining benefits both the landowners and the affected communities.
MP Sahr Charles of the C4C called on President Bio to put his words into action. Speaking about the importance of agriculture, he criticised successive governments of both SLPP and APC for their unfulfilled promises, in respect of food security.
For agriculture to succeed, he appealed for the removal of politics. He said that the “soil test for ADDAX was taken from Kono, but the project was diverted and implemented in Bombali”.
Speaking on the review of the Mines Act of 2009, he said mining communities have not benefited from their God given endowments, citing OCTEA in Kono that has failed to meet its corporate social responsibility.
MP Foday Mario Kamara of the NGC, said that he and his NGC colleagues were very impressed with the president’s speech. He said he is hoping for the successful implementation of the policies and programmes contained in the speech, whilst lending his support to the TSA with a view to curbing leakages.
He expressed concern over the issue of late allocations and its effect on revenue generating institutions, which he said could impact on their performance negatively. He recalled that past governments had difficulties in implementing free education at primary and secondary schools, because of late payment of school fee subsidies, which warranted other charges in schools being paid by parents.
Foday Mario Kamara called for a blue-print document to be sent to Parliament, with specifics for the implementation of the free education proposal, which he suggests should be implemented in phases.
He also appealed to the SLPP Government to inform parliament about the proposed sources of funding for the free education programme, without recourse to increasing the debt burden by taking loans from the IMF and the World Bank.
After other MPs had contributed to the debate, the session was brought to a close to be reconvened today, Wednesday 30th May 2018.