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P’ment finally releases Kenema Council budget

July 22, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

After several appearances and stand-offs, the Finance Committee of Parliament yesterday finally adopted the long-awaited Kenema City Council 2015 budget allocation, which had been withheld by members of the Committee due to the nonappearance of senior officials of the council and their failure to give a proper breakdown of their activities, among others.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, said the council made a submission of Le5,195,161,326.90 (five billion, one hundred and ninety-five million, one hundred and sixty-one thousand, three hundred and twenty-six leones and ninety cents) for 2014 with a ceiling of Le2,434,748,398, and was allocated Le2,434,748,398. The amount received for the financial year 2014 was Le1,152,899,703, he added.

He said the Kenema City Council had a revenue target of Le2,000,000,000 for the year 2014 but only generated the sum of Le935,439,832.00 as own source revenue “due to tax evasion by property owners, and the outbreak of Ebola in the district”, adding that Le5,676,710,097 was submitted with a budget ceiling of Le2,612,467,269 and were allocated Le2,612,467,269 for the year 2015.

Hon. Sheriff maintained that the Committee held four meetings with officials of the council to defend their budget but were unable to do so due to improper documentation, and that during such meetings the Committee had recommended that the council furnish them with bank statements of all the bank accounts maintained by the council, that the Internal Audit Department of the council submit both hard and soft copies of their internal audit report for the four quarters of 2015, the Finance Officer and Chief Administrator submit evidence of withholding taxes deducted from contractors with proof of transfers to the NRA for 2015, the Committee visit the sites of construction projects undertaken by the council for 2014 and 2015, and that the core staff of the council be provided with training for capacity building to improve their standard in financial reporting, communication, accountability and transparency.

He said the budget was initially not approved not because of the accusations made by the Mayor of Kenema City Council against some MPs but because council officials were unable to properly defend their budget.

In his contribution, Hon. Paran Tarawally from Bo District commended the Committee for a work well done but drew their attention to allegations by Mayor Joseph S. Keifala against some MPs, noting that “one man’s incompetence should not be the fault of the majority”.

Hon. Saidu B. Mansaray from Kenema District commended the Committee for approving the KCC budget, noting that lots of negative comments had been made on social media against the Committee, with some leading to physical confrontations.

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