By S. U. Thoronka……………………..
The Chairman of the Sub-Appropriation Committee 6, Honourable Abu Bakarr Koroma of Constituency 57 in the Port Loko District in his general observation document to Parliament states that, “Parliamentary Oversight Committees hardly use the Appropriation reports and work plans of MDAs when carrying out oversight functions to monitor the utilization of approved budgets”.
The Committee chairman further noted that funds allocated to some MDAs in 2014 and 2015 for Ebola related activities were not properly accounted for and urged that the role of Parliamentary Oversight Committees be intensified.
It is the Committee’s view that most of the projects identified under Local Councils development plans for implementation in the various localities were mainly specified by Council chairmen as opposed to the provisions in Section 85-89 of the Local Government Act, 2004 which requires projects to be identified by stakeholders in the various localities.
The Committee observed that there were delays to amend the Local Government Act, 2004, which according to the Committee has great impact not only in terms of revenue mobilization of Councils but also on the smooth and efficient running of Local Councils. The Committee further observed that the Local Government Department is still under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
In light of the above, the Committee recommends that the Local Government Act, 2004 be amended without further delay; that the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Finance put stringent measures in place to effectively monitor Local Council’s revenue generation; the Local Government Finance be brought back under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; and that a supplementary budget be provided to the Ministry of Local Government to enable it implement its activities nationwide.
In reviewing the 2014 and 2015 budget execution, the Committee noted that domestic revenue collection by NRA was seriously affected when iron ore exports, a major source of fiscal revenue collapsed with the falling prices of iron ore in the world market from US$96 in 2014 to US$56 in September, 2015 and the subsequent closure of the two iron ore mining companies in the country. The Committee noted that the first half of 2015 was impressive that is to say out of a revenue target of 2.08trillion for 2015, the Authority had collected to date 1.79 trillion.
Strategies identified by the Authority to increase revenue collection in 2016 included but not restricted to, ensuring that MDAs make provision for import duty in their budget for all contracts that are subject to taxes; reviewing duty concession to NGOs, the tourism sector and road construction companies. Already, all duty and tax waivers and exemptions including waivers for petroleum products require prior approval of Parliament due to provisions in recent Finance Acts; increasing the top PAYE marginal tax rate from 30% to 35% to make the tax system more impressive. This will only affect earning monthly incomes of above Le2million; introduction of an investigative, enforcement and revenue protection department; increasing tax education and sensitization; and increasing surveillance of the border by-passes.
On that note the Committee recommends the approval of the NRA budget to enable the Authority carry out its planned strategies for 2016 and to also provide the Authority with supplementary budget whenever the need arises.
By S. U. Thoronka……………………..