Sierra Leone –– The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah has returned from its accountability conference organized for school and chiefdom authorities in the north, east and southern regions of the country.
According to the Chairman of PAC, this is the pilot phase of the accountability conference bordering on transparency in the generation and prudent use of public funds by school and chiefdom authorities. This, he said, was coordinated by current Paramount Chief Members of Parliament for Bombali, Kenema and Bo Districts, with a sample of ten (10) chiefdoms per district.
Unlike the school authorities, he said this is the first time the PAC is interfacing with chiefdom authorities who had for quite a long time not been accounting for fines, mining royalties and other sources of revenues paid to them for the development of each of the 149 chiefdoms in Sierra Leone. He assured the participants of a friendly dialogue to enhance fruitful deliberations on some of the queries that had been raised by Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) on the use of public funds by MDAs over the years.
Hon. Hassan Sheriff, the Chairman for the Finance Committee in Parliament said unlike local court Chairmen and Clerks, Paramount Chiefs and the Chiefdom Police are now receiving salaries from the Government of Sierra Leone.
He called on them to be transparent and accountable by opening cash books and bank accounts to record all transactions. He further opined that institutions of Chieftaincy are not transparent and accountable in the country for over a long period and that chiefdom authorities should prepare and submit their budget to the District Councils for development.
According to PAC, classes A, B, and C chiefdoms will be audited from time to time to enhance national development.
The Paramount Chiefs for the three districts acknowledged that they had not been accountable for a long time, and encouraged their staff to build their capacity for the task ahead or risk losing their jobs. They also called on them to implement what they had learnt during the conference, and pass on the message to those who were not present.