President Ernest Bai Koroma refused to give his assent to the Finance Act of 2008 and yesterday sent his Presidential Affairs Minister to parliament for MPs to reconsider the Bill in accordance with subsection 7 of section 106 of the constitution of Sierra Leone.
The Finance Act, 2008 was passed by Parliament on June 5, 2008 but did not receive the Presidential assent because there were certain clauses that did not meet the IMF conditionalities and also certain provisions eliminated which impinges development for the country.
Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha Kanu told Parliament that the Bill was necessary to increase the level of resource mobilization internally to reduce inter-dependence on donor support and the passing of the bill in its entirety was a pre-condition.
He also told MPs to do things that were necessary for the welfare of the People stating that “he who pays the piper calls the tune and we want to get away and look at how we can increase our resource mobilization so we can pay for those things that are fundamental to our existence”.
Mr Kanu also stated that the bill in its entirety was a demonstration of government’s commitment to give future to the children.
Reacting to the motion, Hon Dr Bernadette Lahai of SLPP said Parliament was informed that the President did not sign the Bill because the amendments contradicted government’s revenue for development agenda stating the constraints imposed upon the country by the donors if certain deadlines were not met. “It is as a result that this bill is returned to be revisited”.
She assured all that her party the SLPP had the welfare of the people at heart and it was because of that when the bill was earlier taken to parliament, the welfare of the people was most paramount to them than the color of their party.
“We the SLPP proffered our position on the need for government to enlarge its resource and revenue base but for the interest of the few their interest became more paramount than the generality of the people of Sierra Leone we were outnumbered” she said.
Mrs Bernadette Lahai called on the Minister of Finance David Carew and the majority leader Hon Edward Turay to apologise to the people of the country for ignoring the important pre-conditions of the IMF.
Making his own contribution, Hon Phillip Tondoneh of SLPP spoke on one of the clauses that dealt with pre-shipment which he said in undertaking such a thing at that level programmed decisions had to be carried rather than un-programmed decision which is a key in management.
“What I had expected from the minister of Finance and the chairman parliamentary finance committee to have done was to have informed us at the pre-legislative committee that the bill was a pre-condition of the IMF and to also give us the contents but they failed and that is why we are at this juncture” he mentioned.
He stated that the revenue base of the country was in shambles and for parliament to pass a bill removing pre-shipment “means this country is not going to move forward and our pre-shipment should be reconsidered if we want our fiscal values to be recognized and admirable”.
The Bill was reconsidered by MPs in accordance with subsection 7 of section 106 of the constitution and was passed in to law. By Ishmael Bayoh