As He Hails President Bio… KKY Warns Against Overspending

 

Parliament on Monday, 19th November, 2018 concluded four days of intensive debate on the 2019 budget laid before the House by the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa. Commenting on the budget which centers on Fiscal Consolidation to enhance human development, leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella noted that for over thirty years, Sierra Leone has been running but still remains among the five poorest countries in the world.

He praised the Bio administration for revenue mobilization and being able to run the state on only internally generated revenue and furthered that as Members of Parliament, they want to see this government succeed. Thus, he said, he was worried that whilst the Bio administration has so far done admirably well in terms of revenue generation, he sees that there is not enough expenditure control; citing that there is fiscal indiscipline.

The NGC Leader warned that the government is spending too much, pointing to what he called massive hiring and many commissions and agencies. In this light, he recalled that President Bio told Parliament and the nation that he inherited a broke government. Fiscal indiscipline, KKY said, was what caused the collapse of the former administration adding that there is the risk that a similar spending pattern would collapse the current government.

Hon. Dr. Yumkella further observed that in spite of the rationalization measures, “the APC had spent too much.” He added that in view of the SLPP led government inheriting a bad economy, yet the 2019 budget of the current government is also poised to spend more, whilst speaking on the need of fiscal consolidation to spend more on education, health and agriculture.

Leader of the Coalition for Change, Hon. Emmerson expressed a contrary view of the 2019 budget to that presented by the NGC Leader. According to Hon. Emmerson, the 2019 budget is the best, a dependable and reliable one that has ever been laid before Parliament. He called it smart, measurable, achievable realistic and time bound.

He praised the Bio government for exhibiting the political will to fight against indiscipline, poverty and corruption, mentioning measure taken so far that include restriction of duty waivers, implementation of the Single Treasury Account, and increased tax enforcement and compliance by the National Revenue Authority that he said has so far yielded Le13 Trillion in domestic revenue; whilst he called for further strengthening of the country’s economic fabric with revised laws on education, agriculture and the 1991 national Constitution. He however commented that whilst the 2019 budget remunerates Chief Administrators of Local Councils, no such provision is made for Mayors and Chairpersons.

Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo of the All Peoples Congress reiterated the NGC Leader’s statement that they want to help the government succeed. Thus, he warned the SLPP Government not to repeat the errors of the former government which he said are multiplying quickly.   Commenting on the Government’s flagship Free Education program which consumes 21% of the 2019 budget allocation, Hon. I. B. Kargbo stated that the program should look beyond merely making people able to read and write to something beyond.

Hon. Sahr Martin Nyuma of the SLPP said that their government’s aim is to tackle the country’s socioeconomic crisis. Therefore, even before presentation of the 2019 budget to parliament, the President had imposed Executive Orders 1 and 2 that seek to address overspending.

Meanwhile, the budget has proceeded to the Committee of Supply state which has until November 30th 21018 to examine it in the light of observations and comments made by MPs before approval or rejection by the House.