…says Le1.7bn allocation insufficient
NOVEMBER 26, 2014 By Jariatu Bangura
Officials from the Immigration Department yesterday lobbied lawmakers for extra funds as their proposed budget for 2015, which was slashed by a billion Leones by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, would be insufficient.
The department had requested Le2.7 billion but saw that cut to Le1.7 billion in the 2015 budget now being debated by lawmakers.
Speaking before the Sub-Appropriation Committee chaired by Hon. Binneh Bangura, Chief Immigration Officer, Alpha Kholifa Koroma said his department was grappling with several challenges, among which is adequate funding to effectively run the department.
He told committee members that the Le2.2 billion allocated to his department for the financial year 2014 has already been exhausted, which he said puts the department under serious constraints to source funds elsewhere.
He said they had prepared an extra budget of Le1.5 billion and that the Ministry of Finance should look at it favourably as it would ensure their effectiveness and viability.
Senior Accountant at the Immigration Department, Umaru Kakay, told the committee that they usually receive their allocation quarterly, although only half of the first tranche has been received, adding that the department is the only government institution which pays rent for all its offices.
“We at the Immigration Department pay our own rent countrywide whereas for other government offices their rent is being paid by government,” Kakay told the committee. He also revealed that they also pay rent for their staff who are deployed in border posts.
Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Alhassan Kamara, expressed concern about the plight of Immigration officers, although some of his colleagues voiced their displeasure about the haphazard manner in which the department prepared their budget.
However, committee members reached a consensus to recommend to the House for additional funds for the department.