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Parliament rejects Kenema City Council

- says ‘actual budget expenditures were unreliable’

June 2, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economic Development yesterday rejected the budget expenditure of the Kenema City Council for the year 2014 and 2015, as they found the “expenditures unreliable”.

It could be recalled that in November 2014, the council’s budget was rejected by the committee for their alleged failure to defend it.

But Mayor Joseph S. Keifala was amused as he accused some lawmakers to have asked for bribes before they could endorse the budget. He was summoned to parliament for questioning, where he again repeated his allegation, which was sent to the anti-graft agency for investigation. However, the latter is yet to apprise the public about development in the saga.

Meanwhile, the mayor and his officials appeared before the committee again yesterday, but still met a brick wall.

According to chairman of the committee, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, reporting on actual expenditures was different from that presented in November, adding that there were huge variances in figures presented and that the committee will not accept such discrepancies.

“There are huge discrepancies in this report and therefore you have to go back and look at your drive; maybe somebody has tampered with this document as we will not accept such report from you. Go back and do your work, if not we will not approve your budget,” said the ruling party lawmaker. “You will have to come as it may please you, that is to say when you think your work is satisfied enough.”

Hon. Sheriff also urged that after all the corrections have been done the council should seek certification from a Commission of Oath as the document will be put in their archives for reference in the future, adding that “people should do their work correctly and go over it instead of saying reckless statement out there. We should be able to give correct figures and should take note that the document given to the Audit Service be correct as they will be submitted to parliament for queries.”

On his part, Mayor Keifala said he was satisfied with the way the committee handled the process as every detail of the expenditure was scrutinized, adding that they will correct all the errors members had raised as his staff worked in fear to submit the report ahead of facing the committee.

However, he said they felt threatened by the words of committee members that they will verify all activities council reported to have undertaken, including the construction of the Clock Tower and the rehabilitation of schools.

That notwithstanding, he said council will submit the report with an attestation by a Commissioner of Oath, noting that parliament has been thorough in their investigation and urged that such be done to other councils and ministries, departments and agencies.