Sierra Leone: Delay Release of Budgetary Support Correctional Service Owes Contractors Over Le22bn

Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service has disclosed that the institution is in arrears to diet contractors and other service providers amounting to Le22.7billion.

"At present, the service owed diet contractors and other services providers for up to five months outstanding payment. If the balance allocation is not provided on time, a huge sum will be rolled over to the 2020 financial year- a situation we would like to avoid considering the enormous pressure it will have on us," Joseph Lamboi told the ongoing bilateral budget discussions.

He urged the Ministry of Finance to make available their remaining allocation so that they could settle their debt with contractors and other service providers, as according to him, only Le23.7billion out of the Le52billion approved, has been provided so far.

He disclosed that arrears as at 30 September 2019 include; diet and feeding- Le8.8billion, rice for officers' and inmates- Le4.6billion, flour for bread-Le1billion, drugs and medical supplies-Le415, 500,000, toiletries-Le3.8billion, water-Le924, 606, and electricity is Le1.5billlion.

Lamboi noted that shortfalls arising from the delay in the provision of the budgetary allocation continue to take it toll on the slow response to human rights needs of inmates and failure to meet some of the requirements for staff to ensure effective and efficient service delivery.

According to him, they have been fortunate that staff have allowed them to use monies from the staff welfare ad benevolent fund to support many of their self-help projects. He added that, had it not been for their support, very little would have been shown in terms of their achievements.

"As at October 2019, total number of inmates in our correctional centres across the country stands at 4, 659, of which 149 are female. This number does not include inmates that are in police custody for which we are mandated to cater for in terms of feeding," he disclosed.

He lamented constraints in the provision of mobility for staff and inmates and noted that most of their security and utility vehicles are very old and therefore uneconomical to run.

"A procurement process for vehicles was done in 2017,but as I speak, the initial 30% is yet to be provided to the supplier," he said.

The Director General said despite the many challenges arising from delay in budgetary allocation, they were able to train and certified 30 case managers to administer friendly treatment to inmates.

Also, Lamboi said reviews of the Correctional Act of 2014 and the Prison Rules of 1961 have been completed and awaiting approval by cabinet and subsequent enactment by parliament.

He further disclosed that there has been an increase in the bed space for inmates from 1, 7739 to 2, 149, as a result of additional bed space at Waterloo, where a pre-trial detention centre was put into use.

The Sierra Leone Correctional Service is requesting a budget of Le54.9billion for the 2020 financial year.

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