Parliament Vexed For Been Scrutinized?_**_
A Commentary By Ranger_
*Are reports true that Parliament, the body collectively elected by the people to serve as their ears and eyes as to how the affairs of State are conducted on their behalf, is vexed that civil society and members of public have subjected them to keen scrutiny as to how transparent and accountable they are?
Listening to the people on this very interesting national issue that has lately captured the public imagination for discussion, many people have commented that whoever directed the spotlight on allegations of gross operational improprieties allegedly going on in our honorable House of Parliament must be given a big hug by the entire nation for being brave like the proverbial David to take on the gigantic Goliath.
No double speak on this. Parliament in a Government of the people, by the people and for the people shall at all times be open to inspection, investigation and scrutiny by members of the public and its representatives – civil society, the Press and political parties as to how well they are doing the people’s work of keeping themselves, the Executive and Judicial arms of Government accountable.In these three parts series, The medium looks at what a very distinguished law maker on the ROLE OF PARLIAMENT IN ENSURING TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY delivered in November 2010 by Hon. Ibrahim Sorie of the All People’s Congress at the Regional Consultation on the Draft Guidelines on Foreign Debt and Human Rights held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 4th – 5th November 2010 organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and co-sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The speech was a very long one, so we will endeavor to quote the parts that relate mainly to this discussion.According to Hon. Ibrahim Sorie:“The concept of democracy which my country, Sierra Leone practices in a form of multiparty constituency democracy contains some essential ingredients, including transparency and accountability.
Transparency relates to open access to Government, political and economic activities and decisions. It enables all stakeholders in a country to see the structure and functions of the Government, its policy intentions and fiscal projections, while accountability entails a State being held responsible by its people for its choices and actions. In the context of public financial management, accountability is the obligation on the part of the Government to answer for its actions, coupled with its ability to respond to queries from the Parliament.
More specifically, financial accountability is the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature based on the Government’s fiduciary obligation to demonstrate and take responsibility for performance in the light of agreed expectations regarding the management and use of public funds…”Going further to tell his audience that Sierra Leone, a small country with about six million people, richly endowed with natural resources – plentiful deposits of gold, diamonds, rutile, iron ore, bauxite and other minerals which are yet in their discovery stage such as oil, and in addition having good climate, vast arable land for agriculture, forest and fishery resources, and in terms of human resources, has an impressive history and traditions of education, being the first country in black Africa to have a university, Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827, Hon. Sorie however states that:“With all the bounty of nature, Sierra Leone is still a poor country and debt ridden, a situation exacerbated by the 11years of rebel war.Corruption and its associated lack of transparency and accountability have contributed to the poor governance regime, which the country experienced mainly before the outbreak of the war in 1991.That today Sierra Leone is still wallowing in poverty and debt distress is a function of bad governance and corruption, challenges we are still grappling with as a country. (Continued next edition)Note: Hon. Sorie was the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee of the Ministry of Information and Communication, Leader of Sierra Leone’s delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament and also Vice Chair of the Legal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament during the Ernest Koroma led APC Government.