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Honourable Lahai Marah of Constituency 042 in Koinadugu District has exposed the Bio led government for its lack of fiscal discipline during the 2021 financial year budget debate in parliament.
According to the APC parliamentarian, the frivolous spending by the government is worrisome for the economy as the sum of Le 4trillion is unaccounted for during the financial year 2020.
This is how the expose` played out in the house of parliament.
Â “Mr. Speaker am at the back, let my seating arrangement don’t be a reason of negligence for the speaker’s eye not to catch me” I’m at the back I’m at the back, the heavy voice of Hon. Lahai Marah sounded like thunder in the well of parliament with few more minutes left to conclude the hearing on the 2021 financial budget debate, the speaker initially turned a blind eye on the plea of the honourable until on several occasions the honourable Chernor Maju Bah otherwise known as Â Chericoco secretly talked to the honourable speaker in his ears to see reasons in secrecy. I assumed, because I saw all the actions then the speaker clearly said I want to give an opportunity to one of the honourable who is never a favourite to me, and that honourable is honourable LahaiÂ Marah, as if that wasn’t enough, the speaker categorically said that honourable should not exceed 5 minutes on his submission, the house was amazed with such statement, as if the speaker knew that the people`s honourable will split as he always do when it comes to national budget hearings, the said honourable took his time to read the budget and picked out the flaws and excesses of this SLPP government that is trumpeting the fight of corruption, that even became a shock to the entire house of parliament, on his submission he first lure in the house especially the SLPP side by calling the budget as a “honest budget” which lead the ruling SLPP MPs to clap for him, little did they know it was a strategy for any good speaker to lure in listeners and even time keeper for an ample time to be given to him, until he said I said it’s a honest budget because this budget pointed out that they fail in many ways but want to cast the blame on Covid- 19.The Â wise honourable shocked the speaker and the entire house including his colleagues APC MPs to note the excesses and massive corruption practised in this current dispensation, that is still shouting about the fight of corruption all over.
The honourable quoted from the Constitution of the country SECTION 111, subsection (3) and section 112 which stipulates that “only parliament is charged with the utmost responsibility to approve finances to be expended by the government”.
But the SLPP government went and do the contrary even after parliament approved certain amount of finances to be expended for the 2020 financial year; the wise honourable highlighted the following:
1. In 2019, Parliament approved Le. 31.8 billion For the office of the president but according to available documents they spent Le.78.5 billions, where is the difference? No where.
2. In 2019, parliament approved Le. 58 billions for the ministry of Finance, but the spent Le. 64.1 billions According to submitted documents by the government, where is the difference? No where to be found.
3. In 2019, parliament approved Le.17.3 billions for the office of the Financial secretary which is under the same ministry of finance, but available documents shows that they spent Le. 39 billions, where is the difference? No where to be found.
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4. In 2019 parliament approved Le. 15.2 billions For the Ministry of local government for the 2020 budget, but ended up using Le.16.4 billions, where is the difference? No where to be seen, what a corruption
5. In 2019, parliament approved Le. 2.1billions for ordinary ministry of political affairs with no relevance for 2020 financial year, but they ended up spending Le. 5.4 billions, so where is the difference? E go Waka….
In total parliament approved Le. 3 Trillion plus for the 2020 financial year in 2019, but this SLPP government foolishly spent Le. 7 Trillions plus without accounting for the difference and yet this government is talking about fighting corruption. With this submission from the Honourable Lahai Marah put the entire house of parliament into a dilemma and total confusion as the leader of government business ( Hon. Mathew Nyuma) shouted ” this is not the place to say this all, you have a committee to report this”, this lead the SLPP to the beating of their desks and disrupted the honourable Lahai from continuing, the deputy minister of finance was swinging like a pendulum in confusion and frustration as if she was not expecting such issues to be raised in the house this led the entire house and spectators to burst out of laughter, and with no hesitation the speaker stopped the session and called for an untimely break, even when the honourable said there was more to report but the speaker stopped him and his Microphone was put off to stop him from continuing the fire spitting.
All media houses are encouraged to solicit further information and confirmations from the said peoples honourable as he will help you with further facts even more than this.
TVET Showcases Innovations
By Mustapha Ezekiel Dumbuya
The Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) has ended its weekly celebration on Thursday 25th November, 2020 at the Atlantic Hall stadium hostel in Freetown
The main motive of the celebration is to give an overview of the TVET campaign and allow some of the institutions they have empowered to display the different ideas they have invented.
Giving the overview of the Youth Entrepreneurship and employment programme (YEEP) Commissioner Ngolo Katta of the National Youth Commercial said his ministry is very pleased to be part of this very important occasion to celebrate with TVET week in Sierra Leone.
Mr Katta said the National Youth Commission is implementing a three years pilot youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Project (YEEP) with founding from the Africa Development Bank adding that they are expecting full implementation at this stage.
He lamented that this will involve Entrepreneurship training and business support centres for the graduate Entrepreneurship component like Njala University, MTCEC, Eastern polytechnic, Fourah Bay College and EBKUST for the career guidance and job readiness component.
He adding that the GTI, MMTCE Brookfield Campus and Njala University for youth skills Development for employment Component skills identify are: Hospitality, Hotel and Tourism, Agriculture-Aquaculture and construction and several curriculum development engagement are on-going with NCTVA.
He ended that NAYCOM has recruited the Evangelical Fellowship Sierra Leone (EFSL) to implement the TVET Image Campaign to rebrand the relevance of TVET to the youth of Sierra Leone to promote employment.
Highlighting the achievement on TVET Image Campaign Mr. Gadini Bassie leader of the Campaign explained that the EFSL has been contacted by the NAYCO to implement the TVET Image campaign which is sub component that serves as a public relation to sell out TVET.
The team leader also said the communication strategy is designed to improving TVET image in the country by changing its perception.
He continued that the Goal of the campaign is to motivate parents to consider encouraging their children to choose TVET as part of an effective career path, increase the number of teachers that are interested in teaching TVET, signing MOU with over 14 media houses, district consultation and many more.
He concluded that the TVET image campaign has been working across Sierra Lone in making sure that they trains youth in their different institution to rebrand the TVET in the country adding by thinking all their partners for working through this wonderful journey.
ECOWAS Agrees on common Fisheries Policy Â
The Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) has adopted a common and detailed plan to unlock the potential of fisheries and aquaculture for nutrition, welfare and sustainable growth.
Fish is key to the economy of Sierra Leone, where it contributes up to 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). However, the enormous potential of West Africaâ€™s â€˜blue treasureâ€™ â€“ its fisheries and aquaculture resources â€“ is yet to be fully unlocked.
Treasures, however, must be managed wisely. Otherwise, there is a risk that a few reap all the benefits, or that a short-term approach results in the wealth being squandered away. This is why the ECOWAS member states have recently validated a common new roadmap (the Comprehensive Strategic Framework for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, or CSFS FAD) to sustainably develop the sector and make it work for nutrition, welfare and sustainable growth.
Building on a series of diagnostics of the situation and policies of fisheries and aquaculture in each of the member countries, and taking a participatory, inclusive and fair approach (both arising from the European Union-funded FIRST and PESCAO programmes), the new framework aims at coordinating the efforts of all stakeholders (governments, small-scale fisherfolk, private actors, women, youthâ€¦) from all countries.
There is no shortage of challenges in sustainably spreading this blue wealth. Missing strategic orientation and weak governance, legislative and regulatory basis, together with a lack of transparency and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices have contributed to fisheries resources depletion in the region. A coordinated and sustainable management of shared resources (e.g. through harmonized rules and policies) applied by skilled government authorities, in collaboration with non-state actors will be key.
In this regard, adopting an inclusive and top-down approach to regulate the sector can contribute to an effective solution, but will not suffice. Small-scale fisheries are a recognized driver of sustainable development, and policies and regulations affecting the sector will need to bring fisherfolk fully on board to protect and strengthen their livelihoods. Protecting tenure and user rights is essential for a sustainable management of smallâ€‘scale fisheries and a sound development of aquaculture.
The fisheries resources are being exploited at their maximum levels and protecting the resources and the fisherfolk may not be enough for fisheries and aquaculture to boost rural livelihoods and nutrition. Fish-based agrifood value chains need to be further developed and modernized. Post-harvest losses in the region are unsustainably high, due to the lack of infrastructure (e.g. transport or cold chains), and access to regional and international markets.
Achieving such modernization â€“ and promoting fish consumption throughout the
region â€“ will require more investments from public and private actors alike, while key partners such as the European Union and regional and international development banks continue to support the sector. In order to inform investment priorities, track progress and guarantee accountability, more data and information systems are needed: technical partners like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) can make a major contribution in this field.
The recently-validated CSFS FAD provides a sound vision and a pertinent and coherent roadmap for ECOWAS member countries and all stakeholders to participate in protecting this invaluable natural resource and impartially sharing its benefits across sectors, countries and communities. With this framework, the boat is ready for all stakeholders to jump on board and work together for a good (and sustainable) catch in the years to come.Â
Dr Amadou Tall is the leader of the Component 1 of PESCAO Programme (ECOWAS).
Dr SidibÃ© Aboubacar is the policy officer of the Eu-FAO FIRST Programme in the ECOWAS.
Nigerian National Jailed For $33,000 Fraud
By Feima Sesay
Victor Ikechuku Obile a Nigerian National was on Thursday 26 November 2020 sent to prison by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie of court No1 for allegedly duping Kadiatu Kanneh a registered nurse based in Maryland, United State of America of thirty three thousand United States dollars for house.
The accused made his first appearance in court and was arraigned for Preliminary Investigation on three counts charges of conspiracy to defraud contrary to law, fraudulent conversation contrary to Section 20 (i) (iv) (b) of the Larceny Act 1916 and obtaining money by false pretences contrary to Section 32 (1) of the Larceny Act 1916.
According to the indictment on count one, it was alleged that, the accused Victor Ikechukwu Obile on a dates unknown between the 1st &18 August 2017, in Freetown conspired together with other persons unknown to defraud Kadiatu Kanneh a registered nurse in USA the sum of the total sum of thirty three thousand United States dollars. Â The sum is equivalent to the current exchange rate of three hundred and thirty million Leones.
Count two stated also that the accused Victor Ikechukwu Obile on a dates between the 1st and on the 15th November 2017, at Freetown fraudulently converted to his own use or benefit certain property that is to say a house at No.25B Willoughby lane, Brookfields Freetown entrusted to him by Gloria Fanny Peacock for the purpose of sale.
Whiles count three alleged that the accused Victor Ikechukwu Obile on diverse dates between Friday 4th and Wednesday 30th August 2017, in Freetown with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of thirty three thousand United States dollars equivalent to the current exchange rate of three hundred and thirty million Leones from Kadiatu Kanneh a registered nurse based in Maryland United States of America by falsely pretending that he has a house situated at No.25B Willoughby lane, Brookfields Freetown, which is known to be false.
When the charges were read by the court clerk to the accused, no plead was taken and no legal representation was made on his behalf.
Inspector D.A Taylor prosecuting the matter informed the court that his witness the complainant is absent and therefore could not proceed with the matter.
Whiles Lawyer Sullay Katta is the associating counsel in the matter
Magistrate Bonnie however refused the accused bail due to the serious nature of the offences charged and ordered for him to be remanded in prison.
The matter was adjourned to the 1st December 2020 for further hearing
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Â Â Â Deputy Finance Minister urges Parliament to Support 2021 Budget Implementation
The Deputy Minister of Finance (1) Dr. Patricia Nyanga Laverley has urged Members of Parliament to support the implementation of the Government Budget and Statement of Economic and Financial Policies for the Financial Year (FY) 2021.
She made this clarion call on Wednesday 25th November 2020 in the Well of Parliament while responding to concerns made by parliamentarians at the end of the three-day budget debate.
â€œThis is the peopleâ€™s budget. Yes, the Sierra Leone Peopleâ€™s Party is in government; but this budget is for all 7.2 million Sierra Leoneans,â€ she said.
According to her, since coming to governance they have tabled five budget documents and so far they have been very consistent with their theme which is â€˜Human capital development and job creationâ€™, noting that remarkable progress has been made in each of the human capital development clusters.
Responding to concerns from MPs on the issues of Social Welfare for vulnerable groups, the Deputy Minister responded with the following â€œWe are now targeting 73,000 vulnerable groups to be receiving Le 1,300,000 per quarter over the next three years. The profiling of these beneficiaries for this cash transfer program will be based on data collected by Statistics Sierra Leone and the World Bank. The list of beneficiaries will be validated by not only the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) but by the World Bank as well before the cash will be released to the beneficiaries,â€ she said.
Responding to a question relating to the transfer of the National Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) to the Office of the President, she said the rationale for doing this is to ensure that the directorate is in a position to advice government to withhold funds from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that are underperforming in their various government and donor-funded projects implementations.Â Â
â€œWe are trying to strengthen our controls. It is only when we strengthen our controls we will be able to enhance the credibility of our financial management and practices. So this move will give the Ministry of Finance the greater authority to withhold funds from MDAs,â€ she said.
Responding to concerns relating to the establishment of the Wages and Salary Commission, she said next year, a bill will be tabled in parliament and the rationale is to harmonize wages in the country and in the process held government to save funds.
Dr. Laverley assured members of parliament that the proposals in the FY2021 Budget speech are achievable and realistic to not only help in the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 but also will improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
The Budget has been committed to the committee of supplies and is expected to be approved afterward.
NCRC Comments on 2021 Fiscal Budget
Firstly, the Native Consortium has no doubt that the budget gives hope in the horizon. However, there are some rising breath-taking concerns which are said to be good, bad and ugly on the 2021 fiscal budget and strategy which we our Think Tank want to bring to the attention of the Parliamentarians the public, the Media and for the attention of the Finance Ministry.
2021 fiscal Budget: Economic Recovery for Job Creation & Human Capital Development
1) The tax waivers from different classes of commodities are highly welcome. However our high customs duty as a result of the Common External Tarriff (CET) and high freight charges needs a national discuss.Â Â Â
2) Higher wage bill with additional pressure to pay chiefs monthly salaries: The 2021 budget is poised on paying Paramount Chiefs, Head Men and providing them with vehicles going forward. This move is preposterous and we see it as being a political corruption and untimely.Â Paying local authorities started with former Vice president (Late) Solomon Berewa and perfected by former President Koroma and now President Bio want to legalize it. This will put huge pressure on the country’s national budget and it will open the tax bracket to bite harder on the poor, by over taxing Paul to pay Peter.
3) Policy shift in Agriculture
This is a novelty and we want to thank the Government. We look forward to its implementation because self-sufficiency is one of the silver bullets to alleviate poverty and hunger. The Consortium will always complement this ministry for it to succeed,
4) Economic Diversification through value addition
We observed that the Finance Minister placed more allocation on the value addition to the Fishing and to some extent the Agricultural sector on the economic diversification drive. We wants to submit to the Finance Ministry that economic diversification through value addition should be cascaded to the Service Sector, ICT, Tourism, Mining and manufacturing sectors which would provide jobs and create real economic growth.
5) Monetary Policy-“exporters to repatriate at least 30% of export proceeds through local commercial banks.”* We are quoting part 61 page 16 of the 2021 budget. We highly welcome this monetary measure and we want to urge the Honourable Members of Parliament to support this as it will exponentially drive foreign exchange reserve and help market stabilize the volatility in the foreign exchange.
6) Projected revenue from Marine/Fisheries sector of Le 116.99 billion for 2021 is ridiculous and bogus, considering the infrastructure we have set on surveillance against poaching in our waters should mobilize more revenue than ever before. The Le100 billion revenue mobilized in the first half of 2020 fiscal year during the global pandemic makes it the sickest projection ever from the real sector
For the Finance Minister to raise tariffs on marriages and put more pressure on the budget by paying local authorities is inexcusable and a disservice to we the tax payers. Paying the chiefs is a great idea but it’s untimely at the moment.
Moreover, if the Fisheries Ministry can mobilize
Le.100 billion within the firstÂ half of 2020 financial year in the height of the global pandemic, then no normal human being will see a reason why the expected revenue from this sector in 2021 should not be projected at Le200 billion when the planet is returning to normalcy with the discovery of vaccines all things being equal.Â Additionally,Â with all the billions of Leones spent so far on the acquisition of marine vessels to surveillance and protect our territorial waters, we see the Le116 billion as a fiscal misdirection and this is what we call ‘quackononi’cs’ and beingÂ insensitive to the situations on the ground .
President Bio Boosts Fisheries Sector
Â Â His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has unveiled plans to tackle illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing while expanding on the sector that is currently contributing 10-12 percent of the countryâ€™s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Before he launched a set of equipment for sustainable fisheries management at Murray Town, west of Freetown, the President disclosed that his government inherited a fisheries and marine resources sector that was riddled with corruption and mismanagement.
â€œIllegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing was rife. Tax evasion, underreporting, overfishing, by mainly illegal vessels within the countryâ€™s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was destroying the countryâ€™s fish stock, destroying the marine ecosystem, and depriving artisanal fishers and the entire artisanal fishing community chain of their livelihoods.
â€œWe should recognise that IUU thrive where there are corrupt national regimes, poor national and international legal frameworks, ineffective or non-existent enforcement mechanisms, and more. As with corruption, IUU thrives when risks are low for operatives and their cohorts. Like corruption, we must make illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing risky and more expensive,â€ he said.
President Bio further told the occasion, which attracted government regulators and private sector investors in the sector, that IUU was a national security threat to lives and livelihoods because it had directly impacted the local fishing industry that was providing jobs for over 500,000 Sierra Leoneans.
He noted that the loss of livelihoods had exacerbated poverty in coastal communities, whose major source of income was fishing, adding that there were implications for the wider economy with a lower supply of fish in the local market and higher prices and also dietary implications with fish being a major source of protein.
He referred to the New Direction manifesto, which, among other things, proposed strategies to maintain sustainable and viable fisheries and marine resources ecosystem, good governance and a reduction in illegal fishing, adding that the focus, therefore, was to put in place a holistic, sustainable, and permanent fix.
â€œWe argued in the New Direction manifesto that â€˜standalone Government action has proven inadequate and ineffective to curb this menaceâ€™ of IUU. My Government believes that coordinated and timely action and enforcement mechanisms across the sub-region and within international organisations, in which Sierra Leone is a member, can help us wrest back full control of our fisheries and marine resources. I expect the Ministry to maintain an active presence in those international forums and to project our voices and concerns while actively seeking collaboration.
â€œMy Government has also invested in hard assets to strengthen the monitoring, control, and surveillance of the fisheries sector. I am pleased to announce the following: Six Inshore Patrol boats for patrolling coastal inshore waters and for conducting community surveillance and extension services to coastal fishing communities; 23 VHF and UHF radio communication equipment for effective marine communication and daily update of field activities; 2,500 life jackets to be sold at a subsidised rate to fishing communities at various fisheries outstations to ensure safety of life at sea; Tablets and Android phones for data collection
â€œWe have made a lot of progress within two short years. I am pleased to inform you that with sound policies and practices, my administration increased revenue generation in the fishing industry to over 100.5 Billion Leones ($10.5 million) in 2019. Even with Covid-19, the sector has been able to generate close to Le 78bn from January â€“ to date, 2020. This is just from tightening regulations and clamping down on corrupt practices,â€ he concluded.