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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Dr. Marah should have long been Finance Minister-Hon. Bernadette Lahai
By Sayoh Kamara
Dec 24, 2012, 12:00
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The Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai on Wednesday, 19th December 2012 told her colleagues in the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment that Dr. Kaifala Marah should have long been appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development given his strong academic qualification as a Political Economist and his rich experience working with developing country members of the Commonwealth.

 

He should have been appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development instead of the Chief of Staff he was in the Office of the President, Dr. Lahai noted. She spoke during an interview session of Dr. Marah by the Parliamentary Committee in Committee Room No. 1 in Parliament building.

 

I wonder why this man was not first appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development when he came given his vast experience in financial management and his strong academic background as an astute financial policy and management technocrat who has worked to develop economies of developing countries across the Commonwealth, Dr. Lahai stated.

 

I have taken time to peruse through his CV and all other documents presented to us and I feel impressed with his qualifications, experiences and the works he had done for the Commonwealth and this leaves me with the impression that had he being in the Ministry for the period he served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, he would have made a turn-around in our economy through policy initiatives and prudent fiscal disciplinary practices, the SLPP First women Minority Leader in Parliament maintained. Dr. Marah was in before the Parliamentary Committee to be vetted on his suitability and ability to handle the position of Minister of Finance and Economic Development for which it had pleased the Presidents consideration.


Dr. Bernadette Lahais assessment of the Dr. Kaifala Marah who was approved by the general body of Parliament yesterday and later took the oath of office in the presence of President Koroma in the hall full of supporters from his native Koinadugu District and other parts of the country, comes in the wake of his proven ability to deliver as exemplified over the past two years as Chief of Staff in the Presidency. His introduction of and supervision of the Performance Contract for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) saw an overturn in the expected success of President Koromas Agenda for Change.

 

With Dr. Marah now head of the national treasury charged with supervision of expenditure and the generation of revenue, there are expectations that the prosperity envisaged by the President in his Agenda for Prosperity will shower on every facet of Sierra Leone society especially the youth to whom the President has dedicated his second term.

 

Dr. Marah in his submission to the Committee Wednesday assured of stringent fiscal discipline within the countrys limits which in essence points to the curtailment of leakages, wastages and unfruitful projects. But said he would not be doing it alone.

 

I will rely on the support of the staff of the Ministry, the relevant oversight committees in Parliament, the Office of the Auditor-General and the Anti Corruption Commission for us to achieve success of the Agenda for Prosperity.

 

Dr. Marah who reads the country budget today informed the Committee that he respects the independence of the Bank of Sierra Leone to ensure its credibility in the financial and fiscal management of the country so as to ensure the confidence of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

On the issue of the countrys dependent on donors and her debt burden, Dr. Marah shared his vision that to ameliorate these situations would require prudent fiscal discipline and domestic revenue generation that focuses the private sector through private-public partnership. He also called for a disciplined Cabinet process that ensures that contracts and projects are commissioned at a rate at which government is capable of adequately funding them.

 

On the issue of youth unemployment, Dr. Marah noted that there is every need now for the linking of the countrys human resource with her God-given natural resources which calls for a redirection of the countrys human resource development to suit the immediate need of the countrys natural resource exploitation and management. He said he would endeavour to establish a tripartite relationship with government, the youths and foreign mining companies to ensure mutual understanding on the dire need to address unemployment. He called on the youth to brace up for the challenge by redirecting their energies to developing their skills and knowledge in areas which have to do with the exploitation and management of the countrys natural resources so that they benefit as employees, the state benefits through revenue generation and undertakes development programmes and the companies realize profits from their investments. Dr. Kaifala Marah is the youngest Sierra Leonean so far to hold the position of Minister of Finance and Economic Development and sees this as a position he holds for and on behalf of the young people of this country.

 

Asked later on whether he is aware of the enormity of expectations especially from the young people, Dr. Marah said he is conscious of this, and promised to work diligently and with determination to meet the expectations of the young people of this country.

 

I am aware that this is an opportunity given to me as a young citizen, if I fail, it would mean that the young people have failed and this will compromise a second chance for young people in this country. It is against this background that I assure all and sundry that I am going into this job to succeed and to succeed for the good of the estimated six million Sierra Leoneans, he stated.     

 

Dr. Marah worked at the Commonwealth as Senior Advisor on Public Expenditure Management for Commonwealth countries, developed guidelines initiatives for public financial management and a country self assessment toolkit on public financial management that was adopted by Finance Ministers of the Commonwealth and Heads of Government, created the Commonwealth communities of practice on budgeting and public procurement network which became a model delivery mechanism within the Commonwealth.

 

He specifically advised countries such as Ghana, Solomon Islands, Mauritius, St. Lucia, Nigeria, The Gambia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea to name a few countries in the Commonwealth on their transformation of internal control and auditing practices.

 

As Chief of Staff in the office of the President here in Sierra Leone, he created inter-ministerial links and led coordination of the Agenda for Change from 2008 to 2012, to mention but a few of his remarkable achievements.


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