In Sierra Leone Lawmakers Bemoan 2020 Finance Act
While speaking to journalists outside the well of Parliament, opposition law makers have called on the Speaker of the House, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu to recall the 2020 Finance Act, which was passed in to law last week Tuesday for a possible review.
The opposition MPs wanted the provision that gives President, Vice President and the Speaker the leverage not to account for imprest, be expunged as it has the tendency for corrupt practices.
According to the Leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, all political parties and independent law makers have thought it wise that the decision to pass in to law the 2020 Finance Act with such provision, was a serious mistake that calls for concern.
The erstwhile standard bearer of NGC said if the Finance Act is not reviewed their constituents will hold them responsible.
Section 42 (5) of the 2020 Finance Act state that ‘Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in this Act or any other legislation, there should be a non-accountable imprest provided for daily international travel expenses excluding purchase of ticket incurred by the President and the Vice President’.
Meanwhile, during the debate last week, some law makers proposed that if the said provision is to remain in the Act then there was need to include the Speaker of Parliament.
Hon. Yumkella said they have gone through the necessary parliamentary procedures to raise a notice of motion and that they have also written a letter to the Clerk’s Office which the Speaker aware of.
He said the Standing Orders of Parliament gives law makers the power to revisit a bill that has been passed in to law, hence they have reasonable reasons to believe that such provision is not in the interest of the people.
“S. 32 (7) and 42 gives us the power to revisit the decision. We have raised a notice of motion to the House. Some of the leadership were not around when the bill was passed in to law, but when we return, we thought it wise to do a re-visit,” he said.
He added that although there was heated debate among MPs during the enactment, the bill was however passed in to law.
“We do want the President to be compelled to sign the document now but we believe that we can amend the Act and expunge that section, he said.
He said if there is need for the President to have an entitlement for an imprest, it will be done during the sub-appropriation session, but it was wrongly inserted in the bill.
He said the bill will come in to effect in 2020 and that there was need to recall it so that the correct thing would be done.
He explained that the Finance Act gives Government the power to receive funds for expenditure.
Whereas the budget gives them power to expend, hence the said section should not be included in the Finance Act, but rather the Public Financial Management Act.
Hon. Dr. Yumkella who was absent during the debate that saw the Finance Act passed said, as the people’s representatives, when wrong decisions are taken, there was need to overturn that decision as stated in the Parliamentary Standing Orders since the implementation has not yet begun.
“We don’t want to know how they will spend it, but there is need to know the actual figure. We will have the decision to set the amount. The people has the right to know what is allocated to the President,” he said.
The All Peoples Congress (APC) law maker, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma also told reporters in a snappy interview that during the debate last week, he opposed to the said section, but that he alone could not fight all.
“As the principal mover of the motion, I am going to challenge anyone that will show us any evidence of Finance Act in this country since independence to date where such provision has been made.
The Finance Act needs to be amended every year because there might be new facts that will give Government opportunities to receive new incomes and generate more. The provision is wrongly placed in the 2020 Finance Act and it shouldn’t be there,” he said.
By Amira Tatayea Bangura
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