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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Chronic Absenteeism of Many MPs …A Cause for Concern

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A Commentary By Ranger

Apparently, from the latest report by the Institute for Governance Reform, many of the people’s representatives in Parliament do not afford to attend Parliament regularly to discuss, debate and work on issues that their people elected them for.

In his presentation, the CEO of IGR Andrew Lavali, disclosed that about 1/5 of our MPs did not attend half of the sittings in the last quarter of 2021 – Meaning that they collected salaries and benefits for work not done.

In which light, the Speaker in December 2020 said in the Well of Parliament that absent MPs would face punishment. This warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the most recent IGR report reveals.

We should be reminded as voters and the people’s representatives that in all democracies, Parliaments exist to represent the people to ensure Government by the people by articulating the views of citizens in decision-making processes. Parliament ensures Government by the people through its primary functions: Debating the important issues of the day ,Providing a national forum for public debate of important issues and Facilitating public participation, Scrutinizing, overseeing and holding Government accountable: one of Parliament’s main roles is to examine, check and challenge the work of Government through questioning Ministers, debating and Committee work.

The above is closely linked to checking and approving Government spending (budget/taxes).
Make and change laws: another crucial role of Parliament is to make new laws as well as make changes to existing legislation. It also has the power to repeal legislation and amend the Constitution.

These functions are imperative to the effective functioning of democracies.

Additionally, the work of Parliament is centered on transparency and openness – this gives the public insight into governance and critical decision-making.

Thus, importantly, Parliamentary Committees are established as instruments of the Houses to facilitate oversight and monitor Government. Committees scrutinize legislation, oversee Government’s actions and interact with the public.
Without a democratic institution to fulfill these important functions and represent the people, Government would not be held accountable, democracy would be without a vital check and balance and there would not be public representation.

Thus, a democratically elected Parliament is the only true voice of the people and it serves as the basic plank of a democratic system captured by the adage: Government of the People, by the People and for the People”.

Thus, it is heartening that IGR’s maiden quarterly report on Sierra Leone Tracking Parliamentary Attendance and Debate from October-December 2021, showed twenty best performing MPs in terms of Parliamentary attendance, and twenty regular debaters in the well from October-December 2021.

The twenty best performing MPs (excluding the party leaderships) are: Hon. PC Bai Kurr K. Sanka III in Tonkolili, Hon. Zainab K. Brima of SLPP Kailahun, Hon. Dr. Mark M. Kalokoh of APC from Bombali, Hon. Hassan Sankoh of APC from Tonkolili, Hon. Bai S. Kamara of NGC Kambia, Hon. James O. Tholley of APC Tonkolili, Hon. Aaron A. Koroma of APC Tonkolili, Hon. Alusine B. Kamara of APC Karene, Hon. Joseph Williams-Lamin of SLPP Bo, Hon. Dr. Ibrahim B. Kamara of APC Port Loko District, Hon. Abdul T. Kamara of NGC Kambia, Hon. Neneh Lebbie of SLPP Bo, Hon. PC Fasalie K. Marah III of Falaba, Hon. PC Sheriff A. Badara III of Bonthe, Hon. Tennison H. Sandy of SLPP Western Urban, Hon. Alex M. Rogers of SLPP Pujehun, Hon. Alieu I. Kamara of SLPP Western Area, Hon. PC Bai S.S Gbereg III of Port Loko, Hon. Emmanuel A. Koroma of APC Bombali and Hon. Abdul Kargbo of APC Port Loko.

The twenty regular debaters for the period October-December 2021 are: Hon. PC Bai Kurr K. Sanka III, Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of APC Kambia, Hon. Joseph Williams-Lamin of SLPP Bo, Hon. Dr. Mark M. Kalokoh of APC Bombali District, Hon. Hafiju Maada Kanja of SLPP Kenema, Hon. Lahai Marah of APC Falaba District, Hon. Francis A. Kaisamba of SLPP Kenema, Hon. Abdul Kargbo of APC Port Loko, Hon. Quintin S. Konneh an Independent Member from Kailahun, Hon. Hindolo M. Gavao of SLPP from Kailahun, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma of APC Koinadugu, Hon. Rebecca Y. Kamara of C4C Kono, Hon. Mustapha M. Sellu of SLPP Moyamba District, Hon. Emilia L. Tongi Independent Member from Kailahun, Hon. Sahr Charles of C4C Kono, Hon. James O. Tholley of APC Tonkolili District, Hon. Mohamed Bangura of APC Karene, Hon. Ishmail S. Sandy of SLPP Bo, Hon. Neneh Lebbie of SLPP Bo and Hon. Veronica K. Sesay of SLPP Moyamba District.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

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