By Melvin Tejan-Mansaray
The notion that governance or administration is continuity seem meaningless to officials of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as they were left dumbfounded on issues as raised in the Auditor Generals’ Report on the 2014 accounts of Sierra Leone.
According to MEST officials, who on Monday 30th May 2016, were summoned by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to respond to queries raised regarding accountability on the part of the ministry’s operations.
Hon. Eric Komba Koedoyoma presiding PAC Chairman in his welcome address said that it has been a while they have not met with MEST, adding that MEST has been doing a good job but had not been reporting.
He therefore announced that there are unresolved audit issues; which is why they have summoned the officials, irrespective of the time they have spent in office.
Hon. IB Kargbo in one submission said that it is inexcusable for officials of MDAs to say they are just taking up office and therefore cannot defend the issues, noting that governance is continuity citing that government officials should make sure they read minutes of past meetings and handing-over notes of their predecessors when they assume office so that they can be able to articulate on the issues. He said: “that is intolerable.”
Hon Komba however asked who (Chief Education Officer or Permanent Secretary) wants to take the greatest responsibility of responding to the questions but the Permanent Secretary was absent on excuse of performing official duties.
Abu Bakarr Conteh Deputy PS was asked if he is prepared but he said that he has not been properly briefed; a similar response was also made by Sorieba Kamara Acting Principal Accountant who said he assumed office in July 2015 and was asked for Pa Kargbo his predecessor who was absent despite his summoning by Parliament.
However, the Committee advised itself not to proceed and stood down the MEST officials for they lacked locus standi to speak or defend the MEST on issues raised by the AG’s report for 2014.
The Acting Principal Accountant was however dumbstruck and could not speak on any of the issues despite his donkey year at MEST.
In expressing his dismay, Hon. Komba said: “My senior colleagues, we would not have wasted your time if we had known this before but notwithstanding we stood you down so that you go and put your house in order.
We invited all those who have worked at the MEST that have bearing to this hearing particularly those whose areas have audit queries.
Please ensure that you write Mr. Cole that he be present at the next adjourned date,” the Chairman said cautioning that: ‘ there are certain powers bestowed upon us that we refuse to use, but if people want to put our work behind schedule then we necessarily have to refer to those powers to ensure that they are answerable.”
Hon. Dr. Foday Summah Chairman Labor Committee expressed interest to know whether each private school charging good amount of monies from parents is reflected on how they pay or treat teachers.
‘We are planning a visit to these schools to see if they worth the value of money paid by parents.”