8 November 2018

Sierra Leone: CHRDI Welcomes MPs Call for Wage Bill

The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has welcomed the move by lawmakers to request the wage bill of government workers across all sectors with a view to review and harmonise it.

The organisation's chief executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, said the issues and questions that would be raised by the parliamentary enquiry would be of interest to all those interested in how a democratic parliament executes one of their functions.

"We are grateful to the parliament for requesting for the review and further possible consideration of public service providers' salaries across all sectors of government," he said.

Just as public outcry intensified over proposals to increase the salary and other benefits of lawmakers, members of the Welfare Committee in Parliament requested the Financial Secretary restructure and harmonise the wage bill in line with those of ministries, departments and agencies.

While many viewed the move as retaliatory following a leaked memo of the improved conditions of service demanded by lawmakers, thus incurring the wrath of the public and civil society organisations, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma, said they wanted salaries for both public and civil servants to be looked into with a view of harmonising it in the best interest of the public.

However, Mr. Fatoma cautioned lawmakers not to call for salary disclosures out of anger but value for money and in the public interest.

He noted that the move by parliament was what they as an organisation had been lobbying committees in parliament with function relating to audit of public accounts to engage in some form of 'value for money' scrutiny.

"Parliament has for a long time played a central role in our country's governance system, acting as the forum in which government must explain itself and be held to account," Mr. Fatoma stated.

According to him, parliament should not be a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests but rather an assembly of one nation, with one interest, where local prejudices ought not to be a guide but representative of the general good.

He added that they were still deeply concerned about the lack of willingness on the part of parliament to account for donor funds they received on behalf of the people and failure of government to implement recommendations by the Audit Service Sierra Leone against government officials and civil servants who failed to account for missing public funds.

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