By Samuel Tengbeh.
The Member of Parliament of Falaba District, representing the main opposition All People`s Congress Party (APC), Hon Lahai Marah has labeled the recent budget presented by the government of Sierra Leone as “a dishonest budget”.
Speaking during the debate on the national budget in Parliament on Wednesday, 14th November 2018, the MP from Falaba District said that most of the figures projected in the budget were not correct. He cited that the figures added on the wage bill, which the Minister of Finance claimed to be Le. 400 Billion is wrong and added that it should be Le. 600 Billion.
In his analyses, he went further to assert that the government’s position on the Social Protection Scheme is preposterous as what the government claimed to be paying for social security contributions are the same for recipients of the annual leave allowances that have already been challenged in parliament and added that he has never received what he described as ‘a cent’ for annual leave.
He concluded by saying that the government was very specific in the recruitment of certain workers like teachers, health workers and security forces , but the document was vague on recruitment processes outside the budget.
Despite the allegations made by the MP on his so called ‘dishonesty’ of the budget, he was eventually asked by the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr Abass Chernoh Bundu to withdraw his statement, to which he graciously complied.
The budget also came under fire by representatives of other opposition parties in Parliament, like the Coalition for Change (C4C) .
Hon. Paul Saa Sam of C4C described the recruitment of the 5,000 teachers for the government educational program as “a joke,” and added that in Kono alone, where he hails from, there are 2,000 teachers waiting for approval. He said that the slated for recruitment of teachers was too small for the whole country. He also raised concerns about the Matotoka-Sefadu road rehabilitation, which he said should not have been included in the budget because the rehabilitation exercise on the road was completed since December 2017.
Another member of the main opposition party, APC, Honourable Osman Timbo said that he wished to remind members of Parliament that Sierra Leone is a very poor country, adding that if the Minister of Finance claims that about 197 Million US Dollars have been provided by the donor community to the country`s national budget, then it means the Country is still heavily dependent on donor support and should not be too ambitious at this point in time.