Following the tabling in parliament of Statutory Instrument no. 11 of 2008 published 7th August 2008 under the title The State salaries, pensions, gratuities and other benefits act, 2003 (Act No. 4 of 2003) and subsequent media reports on the plans to increase the salary of the President to twenty five million Leones, The Office of the President has vehemently denied any knowledge of the Statutory Instrument.
In a news release, the Office of the President asked the public to note that “President Koroma is unaware of such an increase, was never consulted on such an increase, and is not interested in such an increase,” and that “this office has only now seen a copy of the Act in question.”
The release went on to explain that the said Act, on which the supposed increase is based, is called the State Salaries, Pensions, Gratuities and Other Benefits Act 2003 (Act No. 4 of 2003), meaning that it was an Act piloted before this (present APC) government came into power. A provision in the said Act making it to be deemed to have come into operation in 1996 reinforces the preceding point.
President Koroma, according to the news release, wants to make it categorically clear that his interest is in the welfare of the people of Sierra Leone and not in an increment in salary and even as he respects the independence of Parliament and does not know who tabled the promulgation of the said Act, the President would want to make it clear that it would be best to discontinue any proceedings to that effect.
It could be recalled that the House of Parliament was recently recalled on an extraordinary session by the President, and this, State House said, was to pass a law relating to the fight against corruption and other malpractices, especially regarding the current cocaine saga and suspects apprehended.
“The office of the President would like to reiterate President Koroma’s determination to lift this country and her people from the doldrums to an enviable position in the comity of civilized nations,” the news release states.
However, questions have been asked as to how the Minister of Internal Affairs was to have tabled the Bill before Parliament past Friday, without the consent of Cabinet.
Furthermore though the State House release states that the said Bill was piloted by the last government yet it states boldly at the end that it was “Made this 4th day of July 2008” and signed by the “Honourable Justice Abel N.B. Stronge” who is presently the new Speaker of Parliament under the new APC Government.
If parliament was to debate and pass it, the President will then have a salary of twenty five million Leones a month, or three hundred million leones a year and his vice twenty million Leones. Also, the President and Vice were to have been entitled to a 40 percent monthly basic salary each as pensions.
The proposed bill also provided that “this Order shall be deemed to have come into operation on 2nd day of April 1996” activating a 12 year backlog which will cover the last 11years rule of former President Kabbah’s SLPP government.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, SBB Dumbuya, said the proposed bail was a statutory instrument which was supposed to have been laid in Parliament for 21 days and, being that the President has objected to it being discussed, will not be looked upon again.
“We did not draft it,” SBB Dumbaya said. “It is done by the Speaker and the Committee on State Salary. It is not our mistake.”
Asked whether it is not an embarrassment to the government, SBB Dumbaya answered in the negative saying they did not understand how it all happened. By John Baimba Sesay