By S.U.Thoronka & Lansana Fofanah……………………………………….
Members of Parliament yesterday unanimously agreed to refer the 2017 Finance Bill to the Pre-Legislative Committee which was scheduled to be debated yesterday.
The last time the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development 11, Momoh Vandi was in the Well for the same purpose, he appealed to Members of Parliament to give his Ministry more time in order to make certain corrections on the Bill, adding that the substantive Minister of Finance, Momodu Lamin Kargbo was interested in tabling the Bill for debate.
In her contribution, the Minority Leader, Hon. Bernadette Lahai of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) said that the Bill which the Deputy Minister of Finance was trivializing is a source of revenue collection for government to be able to operate well for the fiscal year 2017.
“Because of the important nature of this Bill, it should be referred to the Pre-legislative Committee in a bid to ascertain why we should, if possible add taxes, remove taxes, and examine the manner of levying taxes…All this cannot be done with the absence of the substantive Minister”, she said.
In his address, the House Speaker, SBB Dumbuya said that since he was in Parliament from 2002 to 2007, it has always been a convention that no Finance Bill should be approved without going through the Pre- Legislative Committee.
Parliament he said is supreme in variety of ways, and maintained that the Deputy Minister can pilot any Bill in Parliament for approval.
He stated that this time, the substantive Minister must be present. There was no evidence that the Ministry of Finance was treating the Bill with the utmost seriousness it deserves. The Deputy Minister he said was new in that ministry otherwise he should have followed laid down procedures.
It is evident that the Minister of Finance, Momodu Kargbo has not been seen in Parliament after reading the Budget early this year.
“Nonetheless, the Deputy Minister, Momoh Vandi has been frequent in Parliament for the approval and ratifications of statutory instruments relating to the Finance Ministry”.
Parliament was adjourned for a possible debate on the Bill on Tuesday the 25th April 2017 preceding the Pre-Legislative Committee deliberations.