Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 September 2020:
The latest Corruption Perception Report published by the DFID-Funded PFM Consortium in partnership with the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone, says that the most corrupt institution in Sierra Leone is the Police, followed by Parliament and the Ministry of Health.
According to the 2019 Corruption Perception Report, about 70% of respondents surveyed said that poverty, greed and lack of integrity are the main causes of corruption in Sierra Leone; 80% of citizens said the ACC is the most credible reporting channel for corruption
The report concludes that the Government of Sierra Leone should reduce opportunities for corruption in the public sector, by decreasing points where cash is exchanging hands.
Reacting to the findings of the report and its conclusion that parliament is one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, a statement was published last week by the Department of Public Relations of the Parliament of Sierra Leone, saying that “parliament is not a corrupt institution”.
This is what the statement says:
“The Parliament of Sierra Leone objects and takes serious exception that it is the second most corrupt institution in Sierra Leone; following the conclusion of a 2019 Corruption Perception Report released by the DFID-Funded PFM Consortium including Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL).
“The Parliament of Sierra Leone is the supreme legislative body in Sierra Leone that has the constitutional authority to hold the executive to account.
“The Parliament is accountable and answerable to the people of Sierra Leone in light of Section 5(2a) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone that places sovereignty in the people from whom through the said constitution power, authority and legitimacy is derived.
“The main objections of Parliament are on the following grounds:
1. Due to public outcry, Parliament abandons its stance for improved conditions of service; having in mind it is the least paid Parliament in the subregion.
2. Parliament concedes and listens to the cries of the people in light of the economic reality, even though it has power under the Constitution in Section 74(4) to determine its conditions of service and the power of the purse.
3. Parliament openly conducts its business both at Committee and the Plenary in the full view of the public; most times it is streamed live on radio, TV and other social media platforms.
4. Parliament had organized its Open Day in the full view and attendance of the donor community to promote an open Parliament and increase citizens understanding about the functions and operations of Parliament.
5. Due to public outcry again, Parliament had expunged a certain section in the then Finance Act that provides for non-accountable imprest for the President, Vice-President and the Speaker of Parliament.
6. Due to its commitment to the implementation of the Bo Declaration on procedural adherence, Parliament now settles division with voting by standing in the open.
7. Parliament spars on radio on allegation of corruption and the matter is being investigated by the ACC.
8. Parliament is also constrained with late disbursement of funds to carry out its oversight obligation.
“This is an open, transparent and accountable Parliament to the people of Sierra Leone devoid of corruption.
“In light of the above, Parliament strongly condemns the outcome of the said survey relating to its image and sees it as an affront deliberately fabricated to damage its reputation.
“Parliament now challenges the said consortium to advance its evidence as it deems the outcome of the survey as a solitary figment of imagination to destroy the good image of Parliament.
“The Parliament of Sierra Leone is constitutionally required to make law for the peace, security and good governance of the country; to represent the people and hold the executive to account for the overall development of the country.”
This is not the first time that an independent report has found Sierra Leone’s parliament to be corrupt.
A report published by the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International – Sierra Leone (CHRDI – SL) four years ago, found serious levels of corruption in the country’s parliament. But CHRDI was similarly condemned by parliamentarians for its damning report.
Calls for the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to conduct an investigation into the findings of these reports have fallen on deaf ears. Many in Sierra Leone believe that the ACC is protecting its paymasters.
Watch a video on corruption in one of Sierra Leone’s main hospitals: