It is reported that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargbo has angered many people and even President Koroma by a blunder statement he made recently about the pump price of fuel.
It could be recalled that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Member of Parliament in the Port Loko District, who doubles as Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Finance, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, had said in the Well of Parliament that the Minister of Finance Momodu Koroma misled the nation when he told Parliament that the new price for fuel was Le5,500 (five thousand, five hundred Leones); when the actual pump price of fuel is Le6,000 (six thousand Leones).
The MP was contributing to the debate on the 2017 budget that was tabled in Parliament last Friday by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. He had other issues with the manner in which the budget was presented.
According to Hon. Hassan Sheriff, “the 2017 budget should have been laid in Parliament two months before the end of the year-either by 31st October or 1st November. “But the minister presented it November 11th, which is very wrong,” he said.
Dilating on the issue of tax waiver, Hon. Sheriff said Parliament has the mandate to issue waiver and that it also has the power to investigate the Ministry of Finance for all duty waivers that were not brought to Parliament. He said that the Director of Revenue and Tax Policy is an Economist, who could not undertake effective tax calculations, claiming that the former did not have the requisite experience to do the job because he was on a six -month crash program.
The Member of Parliament further said that the fuel subsidy should have been removed long before now and that the timing to increase the price of fuel was wrong. “The price for fuel according to the 2017 budget was supposed to be Le5, 500 (five thousand, five hundred Leones) and was to take effect in 2017; so why the rush?” he questioned.
He went on to inform Parliament that the Government was still contributing Le2,250 as subsidy, and urged the Chairman of the Parliament Trade Committee to invite the Minister of Trade to interrogate him as to why the rush to increase fuel price at this point in time. “These issues are not about party, but about the country that we love,” he maintained.
He also commented on the Le7.7 billion Leones allocation to Parliament, arguing that the allocation should be increased and that Parliamentarians should be part of the budget process as salaries and other benefits should be determined by them. Following this explanation by Hon. Sheriff, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargo did not deny that the actual pump price was calculated at Le5,500 (five thousand, five hundred Leones) but that it was being sold at Le6,000 (six thousand Leones).
He is reported to have publicly apologized for the inaccuracy. Meanwhile, there are still calls from various civil society groups for the price of fuel to be reduced to at least Le5,000 (five thousand Leones) which many people say would be manageable.