NOVEMBER 24, 2014 By Samuel J. Kargbo
As lawmakers continue to debate the 2015 Appropriation Bill, an opposition Member of Parliament representing constituency 67 in Bo district has said government’s invest in the water sector was inadequate.
Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma, speaking during the debate on the 2015 budget last week, said water is a priceless commodity, not least in the fight to eradicate the Ebola virus in the country, adding Sierra Leoneans have a right to access pure and quality water. He said it was a serious omission on the part of government to allocate inadequate funds to the water sector in the 2015 budget, but to instead earmark more to road rehabilitation and the health sector.
“Only 1% is allocated to the water sector while Le97 billion is being allocated to the health sector even though we cannot meet the Abuja standard. Water is life and there must be 100% focus in the water sector, especially as we fight the deadly Ebola virus,” said Hon. Koroma, who also chairs the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Water Resources.
The 2015 budget allocated a whooping Le131.8 billion to road construction and rehabilitation, and Le97 billion to the moribund health sector. It also proposes the establishment of a National Water Resource Management Agency, with a view to improving service delivery by the Guma Valley Water Company and Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO).
The Le3.3 trillion budget, which an opposition lawmaker has described as ‘ambition’, within the context of the current Ebola outbreak, allocates a paltry Le8.9 billion to the Ministry of Water Resources, although a further Le13.3 billion is allocated to SALWACO and Guma Valley Water Company for the improvement of water distribution systems in rural areas and the Western Area.
However, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah, said with optimism that “The AfDB, BADEA, IDB, OFID and GEF will disburse Le92.1 billion to support various water projects including the Rural Water and Sanitation Project, the Three Town Water Supply Project for Bo, Kenema and Makeni and the Kabala Water Supply System.”