Members of Finance Committee in Parliament on Oversight
By Osman Karim Conteh
The Parliamentary oversight Committee on Finance ends four days Engagement with Custom Officials in two Board Crossing points, two Regional National Revenue Authority (NRA) Offices in Four Districts. The Committee Members first visited the Gbalamuya Kambia custom office in the Kambia where they had fruitful discussion with senior custom officials.
In his open remarks in the Gbalamuya custom office, the Chairman for the Committee Hon. Francis Amara Kaisamba representing Constituency 020 in the Kenema District admonished Custom Officials in the Gbalamuya Custom office that the purpose of the Committee spot check visits in the Gbalamuya Kambia Crossing Points was for them as Committee Members which was to get firsthand in information on what was going on in the Gbalamuya custom Crossing Points with regards to revenue collection, how far the security sector and Custom Officials, have been working in combating the illegal border crossing Points, and the challenges the Gbalamuya Custom office have been in terms of revenue mobilization.
The Chairman also brings to the attention of all Custom Officials the mandate of the Committee on Finance that the Committee on Finance has the Constitutional mandate, and it’s also enshrined in the Standing Order (SO) to look into all financial matters to all Ministry Department and Agencies (MDA’s).
The Chairman lamented that the engagement was not a witch-hunt but just served as a helping tool so when them as Committee Members know the challenges of MDA’s they will proffer solutions where necessary. He also admonished all e officers to put premium in the area of revenue collection so that the Government will be able to do more development across Sierra Leone.
In his statement, the Station Manager for the Gbalamuya custom office Mr. Joseph Rogers, welcome the Committee Members and their team for their visit, he told the Committee Members that he has been a Manager at Gbalamuya custom Crossing points for nearly two years now, and they been working very hard more especially when it comes in the area of revenue collection.
He noted that when he took up office as Manager he inherited about 1.5 billion Leones revenue collection, adding that he has put up some certain strategies in the area of revenue collection, he said they moved from 1.5, to 5 billion Leones. Joseph Rogers also brings to the attention of Committee Members that when the issue of closed border came up between Sierra Leone and Guinea and inception of the COVID-19 the revenue collection dropped from 5 billion to like 3 to 4 billion Leones.
Mr. Joseph Rogers, also talks about the scanning machine when the Committee Members raised concerns about why the scanning machine is not working, he told the Committee Members that since 2016 the scanning machine is not working because it needs maintenance and the estimated cost for it is $250,000 dollars quarterly.
According to the Custom supervisor Mr. Edward Tengbeh, when asked about the building, he said he had been on post about a year ago. “Honorable Member as you can see for yourself were we seat now, we don’t have no power supply, no computer, no vehicle to carry on our operations unless we hire taxi sometimes, no motorbike, no stationeries, no toilet facility, and worse of it all since inception of electrons systems at all Custom offices we are still using the manual system, and that is our main challenge when it comes in the area of revenue collection”, he lamented..
The Committee also moved to the Bo waterside in Liberia border crossing points where they met with senior custom officials they had fruitful discussion. The Committee also engaged with the NRA Regional office in Bo city where the Bo city NRA Regional office was not properly prepared for the engagement and the Committee Members decided to stand them down for further consideration. The Committee Members also visited the Kenema District National Revenue Authority (NRA) office at the Kenema Plaza, were they also had an engagement with senior NRA Officials on revenue collection, their challenges, how they have been working with other stakeholders on revenue mobilization