From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, MP Questions Finance Minister for Making Law
By Augustine Samba
Jul 12, 2010, 12:14

The Hon. Foday R. Yokie of the SLPP on Friday subjected the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Momodu Kargbo for using his executive powers to exempt ‘Electricity consumption and financial services provision from the GST without due reference to the legislative organ of government constitutionally charged with the responsibility of making laws.

 

Hon. Yokie queried the minister for such unwarranted action, describing it as a violation of the law of Sierra Leone as prescribed by the constitution.  He reminded the minister of the provisions of sub-sections 1 and 2 of Section 110 which state that ‘it is only Parliament that has the right to make laws, and not the executive.’  For this the SLPP Honourable charged that if for any reason some sections of the GST Act have any difficulty or problems it was the duty of the ministry of finance and economic development to take the ACT back to Parliament rather that going ahead to make amendments of a law made by parliament without due knowledge of the law making body. 


Hon Yokie furthered that it was very evident that when the GST Act was taken to Parliament last year, ten areas were identified to have been exempted from being affected, and hence if for any reason the Executive would have need any other amendment, the president has the power to after 6 months reject or return the Act to Parliament for further deliberations.


Succumbing to those critical observations made by the honorable Member of Parliament, Hon. Momodu Kargbo however informed that the negative public reaction to the early introduction of the GST brought about the deferment of the those two categories.  According to the minister, GST on electricity was deferred on the ground that the National Power Authority currently charges the highest electricity tariff in West Africa, and hence any further increase in electricity bill at that time would have adversely affected both household and individual consumptions.  On financial services, he said the deferment of the GST was a sequel to the amendment of the law, given the potential increase in financial intermediation costs and the difficulty in administering GST on such financial services.


However, the minister’s explanations did not go down well with the Members of Parliament as they fueled the infuriation of the entire membership of the House, including the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Chukuma Johnson who made it very clear to Hon Momodu Kargbo that those answers were not accurate and appropriate and therefore could not entertained by the House. The Deputy Speaker who presided over that deliberation duly asked the Deputy Minister to go back and conduct further research in order to be better quipped to respond to those questions on a latter date.



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