December 10, 2018
By Jariatu S Bangura
Members of the Sierra Leone Parliament have called on the Ministry of Finance to speedily extend financial support to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) to enable the public broadcaster increase coverage across the country.
Chairperson of the Sub-Appropriation Committee 4, Hon. Neneh Lebbie, said that based on the New Direction principles of disciplined leadership, integrity, efficiency, professionalism and delivery, just Le1,589,041,300.00 was allocated to SLBC out of Le31,671,615,000 budget for the 2019 financial year, describing it as too little for the corporation to carry out its functions effectively.
She revealed they have recommended that additional allocations be made to the corporation, to enable it overcome challenges and compete with other radio and television stations across the country.
She noted that the corporation has public debt obligations to the Rokel Commerical Bank to the tune of Le3,227,787,210.00 of which Le3, 039,071,210 was used to procure satellite-up-links.
The ruling party lawmaker pleaded with the finance ministry to consider allocating additional funds to the public broadcaster so that it would perform its work efficiently.
On his part, Hon. Hassan Sesay of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) said in comparison with African Young Voices Television, the SLBC, which is the oldest TV station in the country, must be given more financial support to promote its rapid growth and development.
“If AYV is doing it, why not the SLBC which is the oldest broadcaster in the country. They requested for Le31 billion and they were given Le1 billion, which is far below what they wanted to achieve as a national broadcaster. It is like we are neglecting the media in the governance sector. The allocation is too small for the institution and cannot function well as expected,” he said.
Hon. Mohammed Bangura, also of the main opposition APC, said the government must pay more attention to SLBC as they seldom make extra money.
“When we started the debate on the budget, Mr. Speaker ordered for the presence of the SLBC. All the revenue that they were supposed to have made on that day was cancelled because of the live-coverage and the allocations given to them cannot replace what the corporation has lost. At least half of what they requested for should have been given to them. It will be appreciable but the Le1 billion given is not encouraging,” he said.
Hon. Bangura further observed that the corporation does not have offices in all the provincial towns, adding that the ‘minimal’ amount allocated to them would not be enough for them to carry out all their activities.