Members of Parliament on Wednesday 18th December 2019, voted in support of a Motion raised by Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, for the Auditor Generals Report to be first debated before sending it to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). It’s no secret that the normal practice over the years by Parliament is that the Auditor Generals Report is sent to the PAC after being laid in Parliament and findings of the Committee are again sent to Parliament for proper debate. Hon. Titus Kamara, Deputy Chairman Public Account Committee, moved a Motion citing sub section 5 of section 119 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, for Parliament to debate the Report before sending to a Committee. Paramount Chief Member of Parliament, Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III, seconded the Motion for the sake of transparency and accountability as he puts it. According to the Speaker, Hon Chernor Abass Bundu, there is a practice by which the Auditor Generals Report is sent to the Public Account Committee (PAC) to examine and report back to Parliament, which Hon PCMP Bai Kurr admitted to but insisted they should now go by what is legal, specifying Section 119 of the Constitution. The Speaker however maintained “if that practice does not negate the provision that you are referring to, the debate will come later after we would have received the considered Report of the PAC.”
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With this, Hon Tawa argued that looking at the provision he had referred to, they would be doing the inverse as what the Constitution says is that they should debate and if there are any adverse issues they can refer them to a Committee, but if they allow the Committee to bring the findings for them they are definitely doing the reverse of section 119 of the Constitution. Hon Hindolo M Gevao cited section 171 sub section 15 of the Constitution, that deals with inconsistency, arguing they should go by what the Constitution says to avoid inconsistency. Hon Francis Kaisamba maintained that they should continue with the normal practice they have been doing over the years and later bring their Report to Parliament for proper debate. The Speaker reminded Hon Kaisamba that Parliament received the Forensic Financial Report, which they referred to the PAC being a Committee of Parliament, which instead of reporting back to Parliament abrogated to itself the power of sending the Report to the ACC. This according to him is totally incongruous and unacceptable, explaining that the issue raised controversies, which according to him will never repeat itself. He therefore ruled that Parliament debate the Report before sending it to the PAC.
By Alhaji Manika Kamara
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