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Sierra Leone passes new law exempting presidency from financial accountability

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Sierra Leoneans, particularly on social media, have condemned a new law that gives a blanket provision to the president and his vice president to spend taxpayer’s money without answerability.

The provision contained in the newly-passed Finance Act 2020 was approved by by Parliament last week. It provides specifically for the non-accountable imprest for daily international travels for the President and Vice President of Sierra Leone, as well as the Speaker of Parliament.

This, according to analysts, means whatever amount provided for the President, his Vice and the Speaker for international travels cannot be accounted for and they are under no obligation to return or explain the remaining expenditures.

While some critics used this to question the Bio administration’s commitment to good governance and accountability, others called to question the loyalty of the House of Parliament to the masses.

According to reports, the House unanimously approved it, with the exception of one lawmaker, ruling party member, Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, who openly challenged the provision. Apart from Conteh, every other member of Parliament voted in favour of the provision without question.

A spokesman for the president defended the decision on Wednesday, 20 November 2019.

In a Facebook post, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, stated that this is an existing practice that President Julius Maada Bio inherited.

“Non-accountable imprest has been a standard practice for all former presidents and President Bio receives one of the lowest,” he stated.

The development comes as the country’s economy goes through torrid times. 

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