By Fatmata Jengeh
With the country still under austerity that dates back to the last days of the former APC regime, many Sierra Leoneans are of the opinion that President Bio has not been matching words to action in terms of his election promise to reduce government expenditure whilst increasing national revenue, as a way of reducing both the Government’s recurrent expenditure and reducing the national debt.
His critics, who accuse President Bio of having created too many new offices, some say to satisfy his party people, including that of the Office of Chief Minister, ask, what are the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Minister in a presidential system of government, wherein there is an Office of the Vice President?
In India, which has a parliamentary system of Government, the Chief Minister is the real ruler of the State and his role, status and position is very high. He is the effective Head of the State and Government. It is upon his recommendation that Ministers are appointed. He allocates portfolios to the Ministers.
If a Chief Minister is unhappy with a Minister, he can ask the Minister to resign or he can drop him from the Council by reshuffling it. He can even ask the Governor to dismiss a Minister in extreme cases. As the presiding officer of the Council of Ministers, he greatly influences its deliberations. In India, he controls the whole cabinet, which can collapse if the Chief Minister resigns from his office.
As the chief spokesman of the State Government, he explains the Government policies. In the matter of determining the internal policies of the State, the decision of the Chief Minister is final. He works to reconcile the policy of the party with that of the Government. In India, the popularity of the ruling party largely depends on the personality and efficiency of the Chief Minister.
It is an important function of the Chief Minister to maintain contact with the people at large.
He keeps a watchful eye on public opinion at the time of formulating government policy and performing his functions.
He discusses the problems and issues of the State and tries to form public opinion in support of his party or alliance through his speeches in the radio, the T.V., public meetings, etc.
Here in Sierra Leone, many people say they find it hard to see clearly the Chief Minister’s defined roles and responsibilities and how he works to provide the State with effective governance.
The Chief Minister was appointed by the President of Sierra Leone on April 30, 2018 to coordinate the operations of all Ministries in the Government of Sierra Leone. The office became redundant in 1978 when Sierra Leone became a one-party State led by the APC’s Dr Siaka Stevens. The incumbent works under the direction of the President to handle the daily operations of the Government, including oversight and monitoring.
He oversees the implementation of the Government’s goals and priorities across all ministries, departments and agencies. In addition to these responsibilities, the Chief Minister is the chair of three sectoral ministries:
Education and Social Development Sector Ministries
Finance and Economic Development Sector Ministries
Peace, Security, and Justice Sector Ministries