- Director of Public Debt tells lawmakers
July 27, 2015
The Director of Public Debt Division at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has told members of both the Finance and Development and Transport and Aviation committees in Parliament that neither he nor the Ministry of Finance participated or negotiated in the procurement process of the 100 buses, contrary to what the Ministry of Transport and Aviation had told the House.
Last Wednesday, 22 July, Minister Leonard Balogun Koroma informed Members of Parliament that he was not part of the team that negotiated the prices for the 100 buses procured in China, noting that the Public Debt Division in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development participated in the procurement.
Sahr Jusu said his role is to advise the Minister of Finance and the Financial Secretary on loans and debts and not to negotiate contracts or procurements, adding that: “On the issue of the buses, I never advised Minister Balogun in any procurement. His statement was misleading and baseless…”
He continued: “We were travelling to South Korea to sign an agreement for the 13-storey building of the Freetown City Council when we met with Minister Balogun, and he used the opportunity to inform me that they are going to China for the buses. I told him to take the agreement to Parliament, which was put aside. And when we came back, he never discussed it with me and therefore the meeting was inconclusive to me.”
Director Jusu stated that before the arrival of the buses, a pre-delivery inspection team went to the factory in China, which he was not part of. And that when he heard the minister talking about an advance payment, “My bosses were concerned on the issue because when loans are given, advance payment are not to be made, but Minister Balogun went and signed the contract and made a payment of the 6%. My ministry never negotiated with Poly Technologies but rather the Minister of Transport and Aviation.”
Minister Logus Koroma has been embroiled in controversy since the arrival of the 100 buses from China, as many believe the procurement process to secure the buses was seriously compromised under the guise of “sole sourcing”.
The minister faced Parliament last week to explain why the loan to procure the buses was not first approved by the House as stated in the country’s 1991 Constitution, while the Anti-Corruption Commission has issued a statement that they are investigating what has been dubbed by the media as a “busgate”.
The minister is no stranger to controversy. He was sacked as Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office in November 2009, although no reason was given. He rescued his battered political career just ahead of the 2012 presidential election when he was made ‘Campaign Manager’ of the ruling party, but was snubbed in the new cabinet appointments following President Ernest Bai Koroma’s second and final term.
However, in June 2013, he returned to Cabinet after the President announced him as the new Minister of Transport and Aviation.