MPs SALARY AND EMOLUMENT: CITIZENS HAVE YOUR SAY
Following the passing of a Private Member’s Bill in parliament by MPs yesterday to increase their salaries by 300% in addition to health, transport and housing benefits costed in dollars, there has been an outcry by Sierra Leoneans at home abroad about the insensitivity and greed exhibited by MPs in trying to force the hand of the government to give them a life of comfort that eludes 99% of all Sierra Leoneans.
Part IV of the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution deals with responsibilities and privileges of our elected Members of Parliament. For example, Section 97 of the said Constitution is as follows:
The responsibilities of the Members of Parliament shall include the following—
a. All members of Parliament shall maintain the dignity and image of Parliament both during the sittings in Parliament as well as in their acts and activities outside Parliament.
b. All Members of Parliament shall regard themselves as representatives of the people of Sierra Leone and desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people.
After the Bill was introduced in Parliament there was a unanimous vote by MPs from all sides of the political divide to give a tacit approval to the Salary and Benefit package.
Given the hue and cry from the public it worth considering how this demand should be resisted by all Sierra Leoneans. In the above cited section of the Constitution it evident that Members should not “…..seek improperly enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people”. Their present stance is in complete disregard of this enshrined principle.
The President during the State Opening of Parliament commented as follows:
“Minimum wage has not only been low, but incomparable to living standards. Successive Governments have failed to enact or enforce the necessary laws and policies or respect international standards to overcome most of these challenges”
Considering that the minimum wage in Sierra Leone is Le 500,000 compared to the MPs demand for a monthly salary of Le 37,000,000 the President should before appending his signature to this Bill (or Act as the case may be) first honour commitment to improve the standards of living of all Sierra Leoneans especially our teachers, health workers, emergency services/security personnel and public servants.
The Sierra Leone Parliamentary Watch is reminding the President of Article 106 of the 1991 Constitution:
Section 106 (7) “Where a Bill has been passed by Parliament but the President refuses to sign it, the President shall within fourteen days of the presentation of the Bill for his signature cause the unsigned Bill to be returned to Parliament giving reasons for his refusal”.
In fulfilment of the above, we expect H.E. President Julius Maada Bio to refuse to append his signature to this Bill.
Considering the manner in which the Bill was passed in Parliament, MPs will still attempt to get their will and this is possible under Section 106 (8) of the said Constitution:
“Where a Bill has been passed by Parliament but the President refuses to sign it, the President shall within fourteen days of the presentation of the Bill for his signature cause the unsigned Bill to be returned to Parliament giving reasons for his refusal”.
Section 93 of the 1991 Constitution makes provision for MPs to appointed as members of Standing as well as Sessional/Domestic Committees in Parliament.
A Parliamentary Committee is a small group of Members of Parliament, created and empowered by Parliament to perform a specified task. Committees are created by Parliament and hence enjoy the powers, privileges and protection that Parliament has under the Constitution. The rules of procedure contained in the Standing Orders 2006 (Revised) apply in equal measure to proceedings in plenary and the Committees. Hence proceeding in a properly constituted Committee is recognized as proceeding in Parliament.
A Committee consists of Members drawn from political parties in Parliament based on the strength of their representation in the House. One of the Committee that is likely to be useful to concerned Sierra Leoneans on this issue of MPs’ salaries and emolument is the Public Petition Committee whose members are as follows:
Hon. Abass Bundu – Speaker Chairman
Hon. Chernor M Bah Leader of the Opposition APC Deputy Chairman
Hon. Sidie M Tunis Leader of Government Business SLPP Member
Hon Kandeh Yumkella Leader NGC Member
Hon. Emmerson Lamina Leader NGC Member
Hon. Nenneh Lebbie SLPP Member
The duty of this Committee is to consider the petitions sent by the public and referred to it by the Parliament and to report back to the Parliament its opinion on the action to be taken in respect of such petitions. This Committee has the power to summon before it and question any person, call for and examine any paper, book, record or other document and to have access to stores and property.
The Public Petitions Committee can:
• ask for more information in writing—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations
• ask for more information in person—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations. This might be in Parliament or somewhere else in the UK
• write to the Government or another public body to press for action on a petition
• ask another parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by a petition
• put forward petitions for debate in the House of Parliament
It is consideration of the above that SLPW is urging all concerned Sierra Leoneans to start this process of reverting the wishes of the MPs by lobbying the above members through letters, telephone calls and/or email for a reconsideration of the MPs wanton demand for a 300% salary increase plus unreasonable benefits.
SLPW is of the view that based on the number of submissions to these Honourable Members, the will have no choice but to consider the wishes of all Sierra Leoneans.
God Bless Mama Salone & Papa Government