June 19, 2020
By Joseph S. Margai (Strategic Communications Coordinator, Office of the President)
The Government of Sierra Leone has commenced the payment of salaries to Mayors and Chairmen of Local Councils for the first time since the reintroduction of Local Councils in Sierra Leone in 2004.
On 8th November, 2019, the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, in his presentation of the ‘Appropriation Act 2020’, in the Well of Parliament, stated that the government has taken a first step to introduce payment of salaries to Mayors/Chairpersons of Local Councils and their Deputies effective April 2020.
In adherence to that pronouncement, all Mayors of City Councils and Chairmen of District Councils including their deputies, have started receiving their salaries since April 2020.
Prior to April 2020, Mayors, Chairmen and their deputies were only receiving sitting allowances but the payment of salaries to these Local Council politicians has been appreciated by the beneficiaries.
In fact, Mayors and Chairmen were receiving two million Leones (Le2m) monthly as sitting allowances and their deputies were receiving two hundred and fifty thousand Leones (Le250,000) per month prior to April 2020.
With the salary having come into effect in April 2020, these top Local Council politicians now receive over seventeen million Leones (Le17m) gross salary per month.
Joseph Munda Bindi, Chairman Bo District Council and President of Local Councils’ Association of Sierra Leone, said they appreciated the President Julius Maada Bio’s led-SLPP administration for putting smiles on the faces of all Mayors, Chairmen of Local Councils including their deputies, regardless of party affiliations.
“Since the Local Councils were reintroduced in 2004 by former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), we have been chasing succeeding governments for over 15 years to start paying salaries to us but all our efforts proved futile,” he stated.
He said under the ‘New Direction’ administration, championed by President Bio, they have started receiving salaries and also increased sitting allowances for councillors, thereby motivating them to perform to maximum capacity.
Chairman Bindi said they have received correspondence that by the end of June 2020, there would be a significant increment in the salaries of all core staff of Local Councils.
According to him, plans were underway to visit President Julius Maada Bio in his office to officially thank him for supporting decentralization but those plans were stalled because of the sudden emergence of COVID-19.
This writer exclusively spoke to both Mayor Sunkarie Kabba-Kamara of the Makeni City Council and Chairman Kasho J. Holland-Cole of the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC).
Both of them, who are members of the country’s main opposition political party-the All Peoples Congress (APC)-acknowledged receipt of their salaries and expressed appreciation to President Julius Maada Bio for the commencement of payment of salaries for the first time since 2004.