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Cash-strapped SLBC seeks Parliament supports

By Samuel J. Kargbo

Workers at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) last week lobbied members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information and Communication and Finance, respectively, for increased financial allocation to the cash-strapped corporation.

While briefing members of both committees at Committee Room No.2 in the House of Parliament, Administrative and Human Resource Manager, Mr. Thomas Sowa, noted that the SLBC was established by an Act of Parliament with a mandate to disseminate information to the public, and that pursuant to section 5 of the SLBC Act, Parliament should create funds for the operation of the corporation, although since its establishment no budgetary allocation has been made to it by government.

He called on Parliament to look into the matter as a matter of urgency, otherwise they would be forced to down tools as staff have gone without salary for months.

Broadcaster Daniel Moseray, a representative of the staff, informed the committees that staff work under tough conditions as production materials are provided by staff just so that they will do a good job. He told the committees that if the SLBC fails to go digital by 2015, such would have a negative impact on the development of the country.

A member of Board, Festus Minah, also dilated on the challenges faced by the corporation.

In their response, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, noted that government should provide financial support for the running of the SLBC, and that they will recommend that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development comply by that statutory provision.

Also, Chairman, Committee on Information, Hon. Binneh Bangura, said they note the concerns of the corporation, but urged the management to go and put their house in order and come back, without elucidating. He, however, promised to support the SLBC get out of its current financial dire strait.

The SLBC was established with a lot of fanfare and euphoria after a merger between the defunct UN Radio and former Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service, which was primarily a mouthpiece of government. With initial support from the UN, the station took off to a great start, albeit blatant partisan posturing, especially during the 2012 elections.