May 19, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government and Rural Development have expressed their dissatisfaction over the alleged lack of respect by the 19 local and city councils in the performance of their oversight functions.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Abubakarr S.A.T. Koroma, averred last Friday that councils would always disregard committees responsible to oversee them when summoned to parliament or when committee members visit them.
“Councils do not treat us seriously as a committee that is given the mandate to oversee all the activities you [councils] want to undertaken or that which you have completed. You do disregard us in whatever you are doing and that is hindering our oversight functions as we do not know what your challenges are in running the activities given,” Hon. Koroma lamented.
However, he noted that local councils do not treat other committees of parliament the same way.
“When the Public Accounts Committee, Transparency and Accountability Committee, and the Finance Committee visit you, you treat them with all seriousness, which is far different from how you treat us. We are not going to tolerate such disrespect,” he said.
Hon. Koroma disclosed that his committee would visit councils to make sure that projects stated in their status reports are on the ground and have benefited communities.
A member of the committee, Hon. Dan Y. Sesay, opined that local councils were disbanded in the past because of the misuse of government funds, and that though they were re-established by the former ruling party, they still continue to misuse public funds.
“Some people are just going to these councils to squander money without being questioned or without being chased by authorities concerned. Most of the Chief Administrators and others do not work closely with councilors when projects are to be undertaken, instead they do the work and then undermine those concerned,” he alleged, adding that their desire is to see development in reality and not just on paper.
The lawmakers were speaking after 19 councils were invited to present their status reports to the committee.
All 19 councils were present and did submit their reports, which the MPs promised to peruse and do follow-up on the spot visits to verify projects councils have indicated to have undertaken.
Representatives from councils were not allowed to respond.