By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a bid to enhance accountability and transparency in Sierra Leone, Chief Minister David Moinina Sengeh has presented the new National Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Agency Act 2024 before Members of Parliament (MPs). Sengeh emphasized that the legislation aims to address accountability gaps and streamline the monitoring and evaluation of government projects and development initiatives.
Laying out the details of the M&E Act in parliament, Chief Minister Sengeh asserted that the bill seeks to revolutionize the way government and development partners meet their targets in developmental projects. He attributed previous challenges to the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation activities in the country. Sengeh assured MPs that the new act is designed to bridge the gap between government projects and their intended beneficiaries.
Addressing concerns about a potential increase in the wage bill, Sengeh assured MPs that the act would not contribute to such inflation. He acknowledged that the wage bill might see a natural increase due to the growing population and the annual employment of a significant number of individuals. Sengeh clarified, “Our wage bill is not bloated, but it has to increase due to the number of teachers set to be employed and the salary increments planned for this year.”
Following a robust debate between MPs from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress Party (APC), there was a unanimous call for transparency and accountability now that the M&E bill has become law.
Honourable Abdul Karim Kamara of the APC expressed concern about potential job creation and increased salaries contributing to a higher wage bill. He argued that existing Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), such as the Audit Service Commission, are already performing functions similar to those of the newly established National Monitoring and Evaluation Agency.
Honourable Mariama Zombo of the SLPP, representing Pujehun District, commended the M&E Act, emphasizing its timeliness and potential to enhance accountability and transparency. She urged the Chief Minister to ensure gender equity during the staffing process of the agency.
Hon. Ibrahim Barrier of the APC, representing the Western Area, raised concerns about the duplication of functions, stating that the M&E agency might incur unnecessary expenses. He suggested strengthening existing MDAs already tasked with oversight functions instead of creating a new agency.
Deputy Leader of the APC in parliament, Hon. Daniel Koroma, clarified that the opposition is not against the bill but stressed the need for MPs to transcend party loyalties for effective service to the nation. “Party loyalty is the main thing hurting us as MPs,” he remarked, expressing the commitment to fight against any form of unaccountability.
In conclusion, Hon. Matthew Sahr Nyuma, leader of government business of the SLPP representing Kenema District, countered claims of a bloated wage bill, emphasizing that the government has consistently met its financial obligations since 2019. He urged all MPs to endorse and approve the M&E Act of 2024, foreseeing how it would contribute to openness, transparency, and accountability.
Hon. Sengehpor Thomas, presiding over the session as the acting speaker, assured all MPs that the Public Account Committee (PAC) would ensure a departure from business as usual concerning accountability and transparency matters. He invited all lawmakers to witness PAC’s deliberations on the Auditor General’s report starting next Monday. SEG/19/1/2024