By Foday Moriba Conteh
A training for Chairpersons, Deputies and Committee Clerks on the need for effective and efficient Parliamentary Oversight on Wednesday 5th August 2020 at the State Hall of Parliament Building.
Giving his keynote address, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu thanked the Leader of Government Business and the Clerk of Parliament for the training programme, adding that the greater part of parliamentary work is done at Committee level and urged MPs to take their oversight function very seriously.
He said the Executive is accountable and answerable to Parliament and Parliament in turn is answerable to the people and recalled the 80 percent attrition rate in the last election to Parliament largely due to dual citizenship and likely poor performance on oversight.
The Speaker said that all over the world parliamentary practices and procedures are hinged on effective monitoring of the work of the executive. Speaking on the need for the provision of adequate funding to Parliament for oversight, he decried the idea of Parliament receiving support to do oversight from the very institutions it is supposed to oversee to ensure the judicious use of funds for the development of the country.
Hon. Speaker also congratulated MPs for the work they are doing, but cautioned that it should be done in a manner devoid of friendship and other considerations. He emphasized that Parliaments are rated all over the world on certain benchmarks including robust oversight engagements for development of those countries.
In his statement, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon Segepoh Solomon Thomas said that Parliament has three major responsibilities including legislation, representation and oversight. He praised the Leadership of Parliament for the smooth running of the business of the House. He also said that Parliament must be respected by other branches of Government and re-echoed the need for checks and balances so as to enable Parliament and the other arms of Government to effectively perform its oversight role.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma said that it is the vision of the Leadership of Parliament to ensure that Chairpersons and Deputies have detailed information about their work. He said that all Committees this time round would undertake oversight in order to effectively hold the Executive to account; and encouraged MPs and Clerks to work amicably in view of responsibility and respectability for the advancement of the House and development of the country. He promised that necessary support would be given to Committees in the course of discharging their oversight duties.
The Main Opposition Leader in Parliament, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah agreed with earlier submissions by Leaders aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight. He encouraged MPs to take their committee work very seriously by attending its sittings as well as the plenary. He also called on MPs and staff to respect each other for the smooth and effective running of the House. Speaking on transparency and accountability, he called on the Ministry of Finance to provide adequate funds to Parliament to carry out her oversight function to meet the expectations of the people; adding Committees should synergize their oversight work by holding joint hearings with the ultimate aim of achieving their objectives.
On his part, the Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina said he is delighted to have a say in the training session for Chairmen, Deputies and Committee Clerks. He said an effective planning process is a major task in the operational work of Committees and registered his support by commending the Leadership of Parliament for this laudable initiative geared towards strengthening the oversight muscles of Parliament.
The Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally acknowledged that this time round the work of Committees would be effectively carried out with support from Parliament as 80 percent of its work is done through oversight.
The Deputy Director of Public Relations, Sheku Lamin Turay moderated the programme and Julius Moriba Songa, Acting Director, Department of Committees called the training session to order.
Following the various presentations to strengthen oversight in Parliament, questions and answers by MPs and Staff present climaxed the day’s training after the House had reconstituted its Committees in the third session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.