Concord Times (Freetown)

31 January 2014

Sierra Leone: Parliament Cautions MDAs for Non-Show During Budget and Presidential Debates

Members of Parliament on Wednesday strongly warned vote controllers and vote heads from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that were not represented at debates on the budget and presidential address during all the allotted five days.

Majority Leader, Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu, observed with disappointment that for almost three years, MDAs have been indifferent about being represented at the all important deliberations, and that the latter have adopted the knack to be absent for the debates without any valid reasons.

He said several warnings had been sent to MDAs about the need for them to attend the sessions, and noted that during the presentation of both important documents before the House, MDAs were in attendance but only to be conspicuously absent during the debates.

"Vote controllers and vote heads of MDAs provided direct oversight in the implementation mechanism for fulfilling the 'Agenda for Prosperity'. Thus, we see the picture of complementarities between Parliament and actors in public administration. We enact laws for good governance and you implement it," he noted, adding that their full attention to the twice yearly debate activity is required so that government as a whole can function more efficiently.

He urged that should MDAs think they will not be present during the debates, they are obliged to inform the Clerk of Parliament within 7 days, failing which they could be found in breach of sections 95 and 96 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, which relates to contempt of Parliament.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party said the presence of MDAs was vital to enriching subsequent preparation of the budget and presidential address because MPs visit their constituents to get feedbacks, which they present during the debates.

She said the issue needed to be addressed quickly as their non-representation was posing challenges, especially during sub-appropriation committee sessions where MDAs are expected to take onboard concerns and recommendations from MPs.

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