Question Time: Parliament to start scrutinising ministers

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The Well of Parliament

By Alfred Koroma

Once in every month, Parliament will now invite at least one to two government ministers for questioning.

A letter has already been written to the Chief Minister to alert him of Parliament’s decision, Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu said while making the ruling on Tuesday 20th February.

A day will be set aside for the entire House of Parliament to meet exclusively to question Ministers to give account of their respective Ministries.

The House calls it the ‘Question Time.’ It was scheduled to commence on 28th of this month and continues on the last Wednesday of every month, but after the Speaker’s ruling, one of the ruling party MPs, Hon Brima Mansaray reminded him that cabinet meetings often hold on the same day he has chosen.

The Speaker reversed that aspect of the ruling, saying the commencement of Question Time now depends on the Chief Minister’s response to the letter he received from the Legislative House.

 This is not the first time Parliament is making a move to keep government ministers on their toes.  In the Fifth Parliament which ended last year, the Speaker said they extensively battled with the issue of questioning ministers without any resolve. And during last week’s sitting, he stated that the fifth Parliament ‘failed woefully’ in that aspect.

 “It is our intention to do so now in this sixth Parliament. It would be a watershed, if we succeed, Dr. Bundu said.

One of the duties of this Parliament is to hold the Executive to account. One of the best ways, and the best practice in most parliaments around the world is to be able to summon ministers of government and ask them questions about their duties, he added.

The move is allowed under Sierra Leone’s Parliamentary Standing Orders (S.O 19).

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