The Finance Act 2020, which was passed by Members of Parliament on Tuesday 12th November 2019, provides for the imposition and alteration of taxes, to give to the financial proposals of the government and to provide for other matters for the coming financial year. According to the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, the Act “seeks to reduce leakages and enhance the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in its revenue mobilization drive in order to bring home the resources that would be needed to stimulate economic development”. MPs later unanimously agreed for the alterations, corrections and additions in the approved act. Honourable Abdul Kargbo, of Constituency 77 in Port Loko District, had issues with section 41 paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Act, which repealed and replaced the first schedule of the Procurement Act of 2016, which directs the work of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA). For instance paragraph 2 of 41 states that:
“2. Request for Quotation shall be used when the estimated value of the procurement is below:
(a) Le100 million in the case of contracts for the procurement of goods,
- b) Le200 million in the case of contracts for the procurement of works,
(e) Le100 million in the case of contracts for the procurement of services”.
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Other changes were done in the NPPA Act, which seeks to divert more of what the NPPA had been doing to the Ministry of Finance. “Price schedule mandate is the mandate of the NPPA but today we see a Ministry of Finance amending the laws of a very active and productive institution, an institution that has saved this country millions of dollars,” Kargbo explained. He furthered that it would have been better if the NPPA had brought the amendments to Parliament themselves. “This would have clearly shown that they wanted the changes to fit their work, but seeing the changes in the Finance Act 2020 shows that the institution is being controlled somehow in its mandate by the Finance Ministry,” he noted. Hon. Kargbo said institutions should be capacitated to start bringing their amendments based on what they see that is not correct or correct for the furtherance of their work. He added that it would be very difficult when institutions are being controlled externally and this act if approved would erode the enormous gains this institution has made. Responding, the Minister of Finance said, “The changes done in the NPPA Act in the Finance Act 2020, was in consultation with NPPA. “Although there may be some concerns here and there but the Ministry of Finance also has the responsibility for prudent financial management of the country’s resources,” Saffa clarified. He furthered that the Finance Ministry had the mandate of fiduciary management of the state and fiduciary management entailed both procurement and financial management. He argued that those provisions were enshrined in the Sierra Leone Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act. The Minister of Finance told MPs that he called the Head of NPPA and the rest of the board members to a meeting and discussed with them the changes that the executive had wanted to effect in the NPPA act of 2016 in the 2020 Finance Act and they had a common ground.
By Abdulai Gbla
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