By Ayodele Deen Cole
The Clerk of Parliament, Hon Paran Tarawally, has recently disclosed to the public that there are no government funds available for Members of Parliament to carry out sensitizations and other activities relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, he noted that MPs are expected to use their personal money to carry out sensitization activities in their respective constituencies.
It could be recalled that, during the 2014-2015 Ebola virus outbreak in the country, MPs were given around sixty five million Leones each by the government to undertake and carryout projects and sensitization activities relating to the EVD outbreak. But this has not been the same for MPs under the COVID-19 outbreak.
This situation has raised serious anger among Members of Parliament from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and other oppositions MPs from the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party and the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party, who are saying that it is not prudent for the government to sidestep the legislature with funds when it comes to national issues
Speaking to the press, the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Tarawally, said that the decision, not to provide funds for MPs, was taken by the Ministry of Finance and other government stakeholders. He noted that, when the administration of Parliament made the request on behalf of MPs, they were told by the MoF to wait as there are not enough government funds to undertake such projects. He however advised MPs to use from their personal funds to help the government raise awareness on the COVID 19 outbreak.
The Clerk of Parliament also called on MPs not to politicize the COVID 19 fight. He added that this is a national fight and not a political fight. Hon Paran Tarawally further reminded MPs that most of the former MPs were not able to properly account for the money provided to them to fight the EVD outbreak, with some even ending on an out of court settlement with the State.
A Member of Parliament representing the main opposition APC, Hon Lahai Marah, told this press that the decision by the state not to assist them with funds is a wrong one. According to him, when this government took office, two years ago, they stopped giving out the usual Constituency Development Fund to MPs. He noted that this money was used by MPs to carry out most of their constituency activities, including sensitization and donation.
Hon Lahai Marah continued that they now have to use their personal salaries and donations from well wishers to undertake such gestures. He called on the government to help them with some funding so that they will be able to go across the country with awareness and sensitization messages.
Hon Marah also advised the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Audit service Sierra Leone to properly monitor the COVID 19 funds provided to all MDAs.
By Ayodele Deen Cole