As Parliament prepares to debate Finance Bill tomorrow… Accountability on a litmus test

As Parliament prepares to debate Finance Bill tomorrow… Accountability on a litmus test

By Lawrence Williams

Much has been written and said about the carte blanche provision for a non-accountable imprest granted to the President, Vice President (inclusive of the Speaker of Parliament) as provided in section 42 of the Finance Bill 2020.

Though the President returned the Bill to Parliament “unsigned”, he however proposed an amendment for a ceiling to be placed on presidential imprest. This proposed amendment, according to some schools of thought, does not in any shape or form guarantee accountability of monies expended by the president on overseas trips.

Recently, the parliamentary representative for constituency 077 in Port Loko District, Hon. Abdul Kargbo has vowed to raise objections on this and other provisions of the Finance Bill that either contravene existing laws or undermine the principles of governance accountability. He believes that President Julius Maada Bio should live up to his avowed proclamation on transparency and accountability.

In a telephone interview with the Hon. Abdul Kargbo yesterday, he informed this press that they as opposition members will not support the promulgation of a law that will have far-reaching implications for governance accountability in Sierra Leone.

He further commented that the powers granted to the president under section 40 of the Finance Bill to approve the use of sole source in respect to the procurement of security-related goods, works and services is open to abuse.

He opined that the amendment of the thresholds for the procurement and award of contracts as provided in section 41 of the Finance Bill contravenes provisions of section 68 of the Public Procurement Act 2016.

“Increasing the thresholds for the procurement of goods, works and services will undermine efficiency in procurement processes and overturn value for money in public procurement” he opined.

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