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GOVT SPENDS LE3.9BN on Cleaning Exercise …monthly Spending By Abu Bakarr Kargbo

Sahr Jusu, Financial Secretary

The Saturday Nationwide cleaning exercise has been described as a white elephant. A project that is plagued with so many challenges. Financial prudence, which President Julius Maada Bio’s government is said to be preaching has turned out to be a system geared towards wasting the country’ resources on insignificant activities whilst majority of the population continues to linger in abject poverty. Some of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions given to the current Bio administration are improving revenue collection and managing resources well. But the current trend seems to be going anti-clockwise. Finance Ministry sources say the government is faced with some serious financial crisis, which is the reason; it cannot meet its obligations of paying workers in some government institutions for the past three months.

“How can a government with financial discipline be spending over three billion Leones in a six hour cleaning exercise per month? This is not the right time to spend such amount of money on a national cleaning exercise when the Local Councils are there to raise funds to support such an exercise,” the source remarked over the weekend and further stated that government has other areas that are desperately in need of cash for development. The source cited the three containers loaded with medicines and other medical items that required just Le125 million, which the government has refused to pay, whilst thousands of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV patients whom those medicines are meant for may lose their life as a result of neglect.

Report states that the Financial Secretary, Sahr Jusu has refused to explain in a press release as to how Local Councils would have to account for funds provided by the Central Government for past Saturday’s National Cleaning Exercise.

A statement from the Finance Ministry states: “The Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance on Thursday 2nd August 2018 disbursed Three Billion, Eight Hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 3, 850,000,000) to Local Councils nationwide for the National Cleaning exercise scheduled for Saturday 4th August, 2018.

Another Seventy Six Million, Five Hundred and Forty Thousand Leones (Le76, 540,000) was also disbursed to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to facilitate the operations of the National Coordinating Committee. According to the Financial Secretary, Sahr Jusu, the disbursements are in line with Government’s commitment to support Local Councils undertake activities of the monthly cleaning exercise pronounced by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.The Director of Local Government Finance Department at the Ministry of Finance, Adams Kargbo said the allocations were used to purchase chemicals, protective gears and tools, provide incentives for the youth and supervision and coordination of the activities during the exercise.” “Three Billion Leones is just too much for a cleaning exercise in the month of August when we’re having heavy rains and most of the drainages are flowing with water,” a Finance Ministry Official said.

Whether these monies went for the right purpose is something that requires further investigations. But by all indications, report states that most of the councils did not use the monies allocated to them for the intended purpose as they used the previous systems in place to do their cleaning exercise during the rains.

The monthly National Cleaning exercise, which was reintroduced by President Julius Maada Bio’s government, helps to minimize the risk of contagious diseases prone to unhealthy environment that are major causes of different health related cases in our society and it ranges from cholera, malaria, Typhoid to others . This can simply increase healthy life styles among our people and their communities.

The Freetown City Council has however refuted claims on the budget in the case of 100 youth allocated to them at zonal level. The FCC reported that the coordinating team only requested them to recruit 20 youth per zone, which would be paid 40,000 Leones. “Where is the money for the other 80 youth going to?” Council, the Officials questioned.

 

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