Sierra Leone: Deputy Speaker to Invite Finance Minister to Parliament

Deputy Speaker of the Sierra Leone Parliament, Hon. Segepor Solomon Thomas, has yesterday promised that he would invite the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, to appear before the House and provide update on the welfare of Members of Parliament.

Members of Parliament had demanded a pay rise of $8570 as monthly salary, $5000 for medical, $20,000 for housing, $13,000 for transportation, and $5000 for clothing. But their demand was greeted with serious public outcry, accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Yesterday, they refused to debate documents that were to be tabled by Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Fisheries, who were utterly absent in parliament.

They demanded that the Minister of Finance should first address their welfare concerns before they could debate any document.

Acting Minority Leader of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party and Leader of the National Grand Coalition refused to debate the document because the ministers were not present.

Charging that they would not encourage ministers or their deputies to be absent in parliament while the leader of Government Business lays any paper on their behalf,Hon.I.B.Kargbo insisted that they would not take part in any debate until the Minister of Finance meets demands-to look into their welfare

"We have observed that ministers do not want to come to parliament to lay papers. We will only tolerate it today because it is the call of the president. The minister of finance should address our welfare concerns," he said.

Hon. Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC proposed that the papers be stood down due to the absence of the respective ministers, stating that the Minister of Finance has several important papers to lay before the House.

On his part, the Deputy Speaker agreed with the positions of the acting leader of the APC and leader NGC leader, stating that it was not the duty of the Leader of the Government Business to lay papers on behalf of ministers.

Dilating on the issue of their welfare, Leader of Government Business,Hon. Mathew Nyuma, emphasised that the privileges of Parliament was very necessary, thus requesting that the Speaker invites the Minister of Finance in Parliament.

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