Sierra Leone: Maada Bio vetoes 2020 Finance Bill

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

President Julius Maada Bio
President Julius Maada Bio

President Julius Maada Bio has returned the 2020 Finance Bill unsigned to Parliament following a Minute paper dated 22 November 2019 from the Clerk of Parliament requesting his assent.

According to a press statement from State House has said, “The general public is hereby informed that His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has returned the Finance Bill, 2020, to Parliament unsigned following a Minute Paper dated Friday 22nd November 2019 from the Clerk of Parliament requesting the President’s gracious assent for the Finance Bill, 2020, pursuant to Part V, Section 106(1) of The Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991).’’

According to  the release from State House on Tuesday, His Excellency the President has returned the Finance Bill, 2020, through a Memorandum to the Clerk of Parliament.

“Pursuant to Part V, Section 106(7), in the Memorandum, the Secretary to the President stated the reason for the refusal of the signature of the President: “His Excellency the President has perused the document and has expressed grave concerns over the open-endedness of the ‘non-accountable imprest’, as provided for in the said Act. He is of the view that this is prone to improper use of public funds,’’the release stated.

Therefore, to address the carte blanche provision of Section 42, His Excellency the President has proposed to Parliament that Section 42(6) be amended so that it makes provision for a ceiling for the non-accountable imprest. 

“Unlike the past, the fact that Parliament and members of the public are now discussing Presidential imprest demonstrates the President’s avowed stance on transparency. If amended by Parliament, imprest of such nature and the proposed ceiling will now be guided by law. Members of the public are reassured that His Excellency the President has an unwavering commitment to democratic accountability, transparent governance and prudent management of public funds,’’the State House release ended.

It could be noted that , some part of Finance Act 2020 was seriously criticised by the media , civil society institutions  among others .

One of the those groups was the Renaissance Movement, a movement operating in Sierra Leone which aims at re-inventing and repositioning the country said in a statement on November 21st ,said “The Movement noted that as movement,  they are dismayed at some provisions of the Finance Act 2020 which make the overseas travel imprest of the President, Vice-President and the Speaker of Parliament unaccountable to the people of Sierra Leone adding that as a movement they considered  this as giving a blank cheque to the President, his Vice and the Speaker, at the expense of the country’s struggling economy’’

“It is not only un-progressive but equally inconsistent with responsible economic management as well as democratic principles of accountability and transparency. The Movement is appalled that the representatives of the people of Sierra Leone in Parliament could sanction the passage of those provisions in the said Finance Act 2020. The Movement therefore calls on the President not to assent the said law in the interest of the values of accountability and transparency which are the bedrock of any democracy and which apply to all persons, whether be they leaders or the Governed,’’   

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