SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 By Victoria Saffa
Some Freetown residents have slammed government’s decision to provide over Le7 billion to Members of Parliament to aid Ebola sensitization campaigns in their respective constituencies.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development disbursed the money a fortnight ago as part of ‘constituency development funds’ to 124 lawmakers to enable them embark on ‘Ebola sensitization’.
Each lawmaker had received the sum of Le63 million. Many have returned to their constituencies with buckets and chlorine to ‘sensitise their constituents’.
A cross-section of Freetown residents who spoke to Concord Times yesterday stated that the funds should have been used to increase stipends and other incentives paid to health workers – who are at the vanguard of containing the outbreak – and purchase more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for them.
Mohamed Kpaka, a Civil Servant, opined that the MPs could use the money to enrich themselves instead of using it to do ‘real’ sensitization in their constituencies.
“MPs will convert a large chunk of the money to their personal benefit. The government should have used the money to improve on the welfare of frontline health workers. Some of the MPs only buy few buckets and chlorine and distribute them in their constituencies without doing any sensitisation,” he said.
He claimed that out of the Le63 million disbursed to the Members of Parliament, they have only seen buckets with chlorine in junctions for people to wash their hands and a day’s sensitization meeting with community stakeholders.
Also, Joseph Koroma thinks the government’s decision is complete waste of scarce funds to fight the deadly Ebola virus disease, adding: “It is the duty of the MPs to visit their constituencies and talk to their constituents, instead of asking for money to do so,” he said.
He appealed to the government to spend funds received from donor partners, private sector and individuals to support families of those that have died as a result of the disease.
A nurse attached to the isolation ward at the Connaught Hospital, who prefers anonymity, noted that the government should have used the money to increase stipends for health workers, and provide health gadgets to hospitals and health centres, adding that nurses are provided with one hundred hand gloves per ward for a week, which she said is not enough.
Similar sentiments have been expressed by Sierra Leoneans living in other parts of the country during radio discussion programs and on the social media.