Sierra Leone House of Parliament, which comprised members from both the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have on Thursday 20th April 2017 throw out the Finance Act 2017.
This rejection came about when the SLPP Minority Leader of Parliament Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai moved a motion that the Bill must not be debated. She said that at the last seating at the Well of Parliament on Tuesday April 11th this year, it was stated in the Order Paper that the Finance Act 2017 was to be discussed.
She pointed out that the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momoh Vandy had told Members of Parliament that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Momodu Kargbo, himself would want to present the Bill to Members of Parliament. It was because of that the debate was rejected when it was tabled.
There was also a pre-legislative discussion that was supposed to have been held on the Bill on Wednesday April 13th this year at committee room No1 at 11 A.M. slated for 2:00 P.M. and which was also cancelled.
Even though journalists were seated and ready to witness the pre-legislative meeting, report came in that the minister was not prepared for the meeting.
Hon. Dr. Lahai stressed the importance of the Bill noting its economic importance and viability for the country. She said a pre-legislative meeting should have been held to brief members of Parliament, for example on whether taxes were going to be reduced or added. She said that it was unfortunate that the Deputy Minister was then telling Parliament that the substantive Minister was not in Parliament to present the bill. It was on that premise that she moved a motion for the bill not be debated. The motion was seconded by the APC Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally.
The Speaker of Parliament Hon. S.B.B. Dumbuya maintained that before a Bill is debated, there must be a pre-legislative meeting on it for the purposes of Parliament. He called for an improvement of the Standing Order such that for any Bill to be debated there must have been a pre-legislative discussion to brief MPís about such Bill.
The Deputy Minister in his reply maintained that he had had discussions with some MPís and the substantive Minister before going to Parliament and that he was as competent as his boss to present the bill.
Hon. Komba Eric Keodoyoma said the Minister was holding the House of Parliament to ransom as majority of the Members of Parliament had agreed that the bill would not be debated.
The Speaker informed the Minister that Parliament could not do anything with the bill without a pre-legislative meeting. The speaker then said that the pre-legislative meeting was to be held on Monday 24th April this year.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.