By: Bampia James Bundu
Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications
The recent payment of salaries to Mayors and Chairpersons of Local Councils along with their Deputies has turned out to be another phenomenal achievement of the New Direction government of President Julius Maada Bio.
President Bio in his Manifesto had a National Decentralization Policy that seeks to accelerate development across the country. But he had always maintained that for his decentralization vision to be realized in terms of effective service delivery, Mayors and Chairpersons who are also playing a pivotal role in the governance of the state should be incentivised. Prior to now, Mayors, Chairpersons and their deputies were only receiving sitting allowances of two hundred and fifty thousand Leones (Le250, 000) per month with no retirement benefits.
President Bio in his wisdom thought it will affect their services to the nation as Mayors are the highest ranking Municipal Officers within cities in the country. They serve as Administrative Head/Chief Executive Officer of the cities – setting their policies and executing them without any government interference. Also, they are responsible for supervising employees in health, municipal schools, community wardens, fire and other public duties.
The Local Councils were reintroduced in 2004 by former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), but successive governments have failed to pay salaries to these essentials workers.President Bio has closed the huge disconnect between the Civil Service and the Local Government Service.
For the first time Sierra Leoneans are experiencing effective service delivery by Local Councils as a result of the cordial working relationship they now have with the central government.The beneficiaries have lauded President Bio for what they describe as the right move that will put them in sound footing to efficiently deliver services to the nation.