March 19, 2021
By Jariatu S. Jusu
The Paramount Chief Member of Parliament representing Tonkolili District, P.C Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III, yesterday admonished that Members of Parliament should not politicize the Auditor General’s report, but rather debate it and provide the required support to expose corruption across the board.
He stated that civil servants are not supposedly members of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and that the audit report should not be used as political tool, but one that should be used to fight against corruption in the country.
“We should be supporting the reports and not politicizing it, but now you are assuming as if it is an SLPP thing. Most of these civil servants were not appointed by the ruling party; they have been there for longer period, so we should point them out. I am seeing people trying to endorse corruption and as place of self- movement,” he said.
He stated that when the 2018 Audit report was tabled by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, a motion was raised by Hon. Ibrahim Tawa and himself for a debate on the document, as that is what the constitution demands.
P.C Sanka stated that even if the audit report has not been debated since the inception of Parliament or the ASSL, but that does not warrant the fifth Parliament from not doing it now.
“Is the New Direction going back to the old road of corrupt method, or going forward. You should be doing the right thing in the New Direction, so that most of these people who are responsible for corrupt activities will be exposed,” he urged.
He said President Bio did emphasize the fight against corruption during his statement in the first Stating Opening of Parliament and even in his campaign message.
“Some of us have stood here to say there is corruption in the country, I and Hon. Tawa fought ways to push here before you Mr. Speaker, to debate the 2018 Audit report and it was unanimously supported, but up till now there is no debate. The 2019 report was tabled again including the Audit of Funds Managed by NaCOVERC without debate. You are standing on weak grounds, Mr. Speaker. Sooner or later the 2020 report will be here again and the leadership is here telling us that it is a motion which the Speaker should have fast tracked to debate the issues in the report,” he stated.
Also, All People’s Congress (APC), Hon. Lahai Marah, cited Section 119, Subsection 5 of the 1991 Constitution which states that ”Parliament shall debate the report of the Auditor-General and appoint where necessary in the public interest a committee to deal with any matters arising therefrom.”
He said there has not been any debate on the report despite the fact that a motion had been raised by the Leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Hon. Kandeh Yumkella, when the 2019 report was tabled, but rather the Public Account Committee (PAC) was doing a work, which should have been an alternative decision, if necessary.
“I think it is but mandatory that you, Mr. Speaker, brings to this House the Auditor General’s report for us to debate it as laying it on the table does not mean it has been debated. The constitution is very clear and we need to debate it. After debating, issues arising from our debate could be directed to a committee,” he said.
On his part, Acting Leader of Government Business ,countered that since the report was tabled in the House, it has now become the property of Parliament. He said there is a notice of motion already, but the Business Committee has not been informed by the Clerk that the motion has been properly presented.
“When we receive this notice from the Clerk then we will take action. We assure you that we will definitely take actions as we respect the Constitution,” he assured.
Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, urged that an urgent meeting be held to look into the issue and address the matter or the question as stated in the provision of subsection 5 of Section 119 of the national constitution.
He said the provision is straight forward and that they should not do it the other way round, adding that the report should have first been debated and then referred where necessary to the PAC.