February 20, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Opposition Member of Parliament, Hon. Bashiru Sidikie of Constituency 70 Tuesday urged members of the Public Account Committee (PAC), which is responsible for deliberations on the annual report of the Audit Service Sierra Leone, to start debate on the 2013 report.
The report was tabled in Parliament in December 2014.
Hon. Sidikie was speaking after Majority Leader Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu made a statement on the report of the Audit Service on the management of Ebola funds spanning May to October, 2014.
Hon. Bundu had appealed to all concerned to allow Parliament do its work and wait for action that the Executive will take from the report of the PAC as according to him, public statements on the damning report would prejudice their work and “kill the morale of our vigilantes in the fight against the Ebola and create a bad impression on our donor partners.”
The Majority Leader also famously stated that Parliament would not allow or entertain any breach of statutory provisions bordering on matters pertaining to the procedures dealing with the Auditor General’s report.
But Hon. Sidikie reminded the House that Section 119(5) of the 1991 Constitution states that “Parliament shall debate the report of the Auditor General and appoint where necessary in the public interest a Committee to deal with any matters arising therefrom,” thus urging a speedy deliberation as it was in the public interest.
He maintained that many reports have been long tabled for deliberations which are still to be deliberated on by lawmakers, noting that such was not a good example for the peoples’ representatives as much is being expected from them.
Chairman of the Public Account Committee and Deputy Speaker, Hon. Chernoh R.M. Bah, said Section 70 (6A&B) of the 1991 Constitution made it clear as to the creation of the PAC and that of a special account, which Audit Service Sierra Leone has done on the management of Ebola fund. Hence, he said PAC should be regarded as referees and not players as per law.
However, Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Ansumana Jaiah Kaikai, admonished that Parliament should not be used as goalkeeper in the face of public backlash over the Ebola report, lest it is scapegoatised.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential and Public Affairs, Hon. Jusufu B. Mansaray, advised the Majority Leader to use community radio stations to make the pronouncement to the public, which borders on the controversial ban on public discussion of the Ebola report, which has enraged many across the country and in the Diaspora.
Hon. Mohamed K. Tholley noted that a lot has been said about Parliament since the Ebola report was tabled in the House, and that while on his way from Bo on Tuesday morning, he overheard some disgruntled youth saying, “Look the tiff man dem de go” (here go the thieves), which according to him was quite embarrassing as a Member of Parliament.
He urged that urgent action be taken by the concerned committee in order to avoid further backlash from the public.