‘IPRP is Under Funded’ –Chairman Says

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IPRP Chairman making his statement during the budget hearing

 By IPRP Communications Unit

Chairman of the Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP) Emmanuel SaffaAbdulai, said the IPRP was underfunded. He made this disclosure during a one –day Budget Hearing for the Financial Year 2022 at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) Tuesday, 28 September, 2021.

He said quotas being allocated in the previous years were ridiculous to run the daily operations of the office as compare to the magnitude of work.

This Year allocation was only Five Hundred Million Leones allocated to the Institution, adding that the coming Fiscal Year of 2022 requesting for over a Billion Leones to run the institution and implement plan activities.

The hearing was witnessed by staff of MOF, IPRP, Non State Actors (NSAs), the media and Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

The IPRP is a creation of section 65 (1) of the National Public Procurement Act No. 10 of 2016. The IPRP is charged with the responsibility to review complaints from dissatisfied bidders about decision of procuring entity.

Speaking during the hearing Chairman Abdulai said previous budget allocations of Five Hundred Million Leones to run the daily operations of the secretariat was paltry.

The IPRP Secretariat was located at the National Public Procurement Authority Office at Tower Hill during his predecessors’ era and only one staff was representing the IPRP.

He noted that such an operations undermined the IPRP in executing their duties efficiently, and referenced that one could not be a coach and at the same time referee for a team.

He told budget hearing members that under his administration he had set up the Secretariat on 3A Wellington Street that was up and running with staff being recruited.

‘’ Our major constraint the Secretariat is without a generator in case of any power outage and vehicle for operations’’. He said

He said the role of the IPRP was very vital in the procurement cycle, and that government spends over 70 percent in procuring goods, works and services.

He said the amount requested for was not much and if the said amount being allocated in the next Fiscal Year would enable the secretariat to implement its plan activities.

The chairman said activities for 2022 was to intensify stakeholder sensitization and community outreach especially in the provincial towns as well as Local Councils on core mandate of the IPRP.

Also, to develop policies and other framework for effective and efficient complaints management.

Moreover, to develop a website that would target the general public on awareness raising on activities of the institution.

“IPRP Secretariat is here to restore accountability and transparency in the procurement processes,” he said.

The Auditor General reports are vivid case study of breach of procurement rules, adding that 70 percent of government resources misappropriated due to flout of the PPA of 2016.

Senior Financial Secretary MOF, Samuel Momoh appealed to the IPRP to roll out activity plan that was not executed, and that challenges highlighted during the presentation would be considered.

Mr.Momoh asked members present at the hearing if the budget proposal presented by the IPRP for the Fiscal Year 2022 be accepted was in the affirmative.

Regional Coordinator Non State Actors Kambia district Foday Dada, appealed to MOF to disburse the said quota requested by the IPRP so that their activities could be roll over to the next Fiscal Year.

 ‘’Such an institution needs to be empower to effectively carryout their core mandate as procurement is becoming a bed rock for corruption in the country’’ he said.

The budget technical team and stakeholders made their submissions that the Agency need to be bolstered because if government is to succeed in agricultural production the Agency could be a driving actor in doing achieving that.

PRES. BIO AWARDS BEST TEACHERS

Below is the speech delivered by President Julius Maada Bio at the event of awards to teachers

Distinguished teachers and school administrators, The Honourable Vice President,

1. You may have noticed that I deliberately reversed sequencing in protocol in order to highlight the importance of teachers not only at this event but in our lives and for the future of this nation. In that regard, I crave your indulgence to all stand up and give all teachers – young, experienced, more experienced, retired, sick, or late — a standing ovation for one minute.

Thank you. Thank you! Thank you!

2. If a bare-footed, five-year old village boy, who stared in awe and with great curiosity on his first day at school, today holds degrees from institutions of higher learning, can speak English and French, use technology, think critically, interact freely with world leaders, and is today President of this Republic of Sierra Leone, it is all because of the sacrifice, care, nurture, and patience of teachers.

3. Therefore, on this day set aside as World Teachers’ Day, it is all appropriate to celebrate, to honour, and to thank every teacher for all they have done. Through war and through pestilence, teachers have been at the very heart of our nation’s resilience and recovery. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they kept schools open, imparted knowledge with characteristic selflessness, patiently prepared students for transitional examinations, and continued to mould and open minds as they are wont.

4. So today is about honouring those who may have been mocked, ridiculed, and under-appreciated for choosing a profession that does not bestow instant monetary wealth upon them.

5. Today is about recognising communicators, influencers, opinion makers, care givers; people who serve with empathy; who mould character, instil discipline and respect; who empower; who give passions, imaginations, hopes, and dreams an opportunity to blossom.

6. Today is about thanking those who when children have doubts, when they make mistakes, when they are unsure and frustrated, will patiently stand by and assure them that the best is always in them and they are the best who can ever be.

7. Today is about honouring those who have dedicated their lives to nurturing and developing the human capital of our nation and thus shaping the future of our nation. Today is about celebrating and honouring our teachers. Thank you.

8. As President, I have prioritised investing in people because it is the only enduring, inclusive, and sustainable pathway to developing our nation. Central to that investment is quality education that is universally and equally accessible to all.

9. The Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission has given an exhaustive list of reforms we promised and have delivered to teachers. The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has laid out the whole gamut of reforms in the education sector that have made us the object of great admiration the world over.

10. We thank our partners who have believed in us, stood with us, and worked with us to invest in our citizens through free quality education. The partnerships, technical support, policy advice, and funding support have been truly invaluable.

Thank you for your support for teacher training, your provision of teaching and learning materials, and your alignment of your funding and expertise with our long-term strategies for augmenting teacher training.

11. There is a role for the private sector and for foundations and other multilateral agencies. Let us forge partnerships that improve the quality of teachers and of teaching in Sierra Leone. We believe that quality teaching leads to better student outcomes and higher student achievement and completion rates.

12. This is why teachers are central to our overall education strategy and why, in the People’s Manifesto, I announced the best teacher award for the most innovative, ingenious, and dedicated teachers at national, regional, and district levels.

13. Our thinking was that through a transparent, competitive process based on clear guidelines, teachers would be identified across the country who consistently demonstrate a number of desirable qualities.

14. Our assessments were based on innovative teaching strategies including the use of technology and digital media; creating an inclusive and engaging learning environment for students; maintaining high standards of teaching and assessment; supporting student learning and development beyond the classroom; maintaining the Teaching Code of Conduct; and, being a peer mentor and positive role model for other teachers.

15. The objective is to motivate teachers to work towards excellence in the teaching profession and to inspire others to join the profession and to exceed minimum standards. We want to raise the profile and visibility of teachers and of the teaching profession.

16. Winners will serve as role models for other teachers and share their best practices. I expect that the Teaching Service Commission will develop a toolkit that outlines feasible ways best teachers can do so.

17. In addition to the modest prizes, we will be providing to each winner today, these winners will be nominated as Sierra Leone’s nominees to compete in this year’s AU Teacher Prize.

18. Let me close by thanking teachers for what they are and for all they do. You nurture and educate young people who I see as a source of hope; and as drivers of a productive, inclusive, cohesive, and sustainable future.

19. If we should be at the centre and not at the receiving end of the fourth industrial revolution; if we should participate actively in the global order; we must and should do better at educating our next generation of leaders.

20. If as a nation we should meet our targets of social justice and civic responsibility; of gender empowerment and equality; of radical inclusion of the youth, girls – pregnant or parent learners -, the poor, the rural, those living with disabilities, and other at-risk populations; we must continue to invest in, honour, and celebrate our teachers.

I thank you and May God bless Sierra Leone.

Le2.8B for Seeds

By: Amara Kargbo

The Sierra Leone Seed Certification Agency (SLeSCA) which is charged with the responsibility to regulate all seed activities in the country seeks the supports of the government through the Ministry of Finance to allocate the agency with the sum of 2.8billion which the agency intended to undertake it deliverables for 2022

Dr. Robert Chakanda, Executive Director presented the agency budget on the on-going Fiscal Year budget discussion at the ministry of finance that his agency needs to be felt in the provincial districts by establishing five district offices; equipping the national seed testing laboratory; reducing the importation of rice to at least 50%; reactivating seed production value-chain which will start with research on to private sector development and promoting private -sector growth in all sectors along the seed value chain.

He informed the budget technical team that, SLeSCA aims to build a strong and sustainable seed sector that will guarantee seed sufficiency which will lead to food security in the country through it 2022 strategic plan policy objectives, to provide technical and logistical support to the agency to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of programmes and activities within it mandate, promote seed testing through activities,quality control, production, certification and ensure farmers have quality seed inputs in good time, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity.

The Executive Director highlighted that the agency is constrained with logistical challenges like inadequate mobility, laboratory equipment and field equipment. Hence, other challenges include poorly defined seed actors;  struggling public awareness; low capacity among staff and other actors; non-availability of high quality and affordable seed; limited private sector involvement and limited coordination of the seed sector.

He chatted the way forward, that the agency needs support to strengthen the institution Instruments-Review Policy, Act and Regulations, assistance for public awareness, increasing collaboration with partner institutions like Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institution and enhance capacity to coordinate the seed sector at all levels.

The budget technical team and stakeholders made their submissions that the agency needs to be bolstered because if government is to succeed in agricultural production the agency could be arriving actor in doing that.

PUBLIC REVIEW ARTICLE

THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

‘Ernest’ Warns Investors… Need for ‘Mass Tourism Education’ in Salone

(Published in Sierra Leone’s CONCORD TIMES newspaper on August 13, 2013; slconcordtimes.

com)

On the 3rd  of April, 2013, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, issued a stern warning to ‘investors’ that would be granted land  leases  by government  to spawn some marketable investment – from tourism to mining – but, would fail to utilize such lands for legally agreed purposes; he said that government reserves the right to repossess such lands, because it is obvious those who have not developed these lands lack the “technical and financial capacity to do so”.  This was during the launching of Sweet Salone’s The Place luxury resort on the idyllic Tokeh beachfront in the Freetown peninsular, Sierra  Leone. President Koroma praised Sweet Salone for being “the first serious investor in tourism” from 2007 – during his first term in office – to the present.  The President’s blend of praise and tough talk was ‘fallamakata-ed’ (emulated) by his land/environment minister, Musa Tarawally.  The latter said that Sierra Leone is determined to give every encouragement to foreign investors;  and  issued a caustic warning to not only questionable foreign investors, but, also citizens who are like cancerous cells on the environment –  “land grabbers and squatters”.  Minister Tarawalysaid  that government would ensure “healthy and proper use of land”, so that “meaningful investment …won’t be strangled”.

 Construction of Mansions above the ‘Green Line’ – with Impunity!!

Last week, I went to one of  my paternal villages, Gloucester (my father, Ethelbert Hanciles. was born in Bonthe; but, my grandfather, V. Hanciles, was born and bred in Gloucester, in Freetown, and went to work in Bonthe in the early 20th century, where he died and was buried).  Gloucester is  one of the first mountain villages where slaves freed in the Americas, bundled  to Britain, repatriated to ‘Freetown’, settled in… at the end of the Protracted Holocaust of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the late 18th century.   My  nephew resident in Gloucester, Frederick Hanciles, guided me as I directed video recording with a Freetown-based film company, Studio J (owned by French Jew, Charles Ostrov).   Environmental degradation in Gloucester is chilling, and criminal.  There is an ‘environmental law’ in Sierra Leone which forbids any development – for building or farming – on the mountains above the ‘green line’. (That is just about the middle of the mountain from the bottom).   But, in Goderich, on nearly all the mountain ranges, developers and farmers have gone way  above the ‘green line’ – in some areas, right to the peak of these mountains, wantonly destroying the rich tropical forests, exposing the bare rocks underneath them.

What these land grabbers are doing in Creole villages like Gloucester (and, the ‘collective village’ of all Sierra Leoneans) would be deemed by deep thinkers as  worse than what the white man in America/Europe did when they enslaved the fore-parents of these Creoles in the Americas for over three hundred years.  The land grabbers are simply putting fire on the forests to clear the land.  The loss of invaluable biological life that results would make ardent environmentalists wail nonstop for ten years at the magnitude of   such loss unfolding.   Sierra Leone has lost over 95 percent of  its virgin tropical rainforests.  The tropical rainforests in these Creole villages are the few remaining  with largely intact tropical rainforests.   About 60 percent of plant and animal life remaining on earth can be found in such tropical rainforests.  Over 65% of the ‘raw materials’ for the billions of dollar global pharmaceutical industries  are found in such forests.   Even locally, a large number of herbalists depend on these forests as the only ones remaining in Sierra Leone from which they can extract herbs from.   These forests have been saved from being ravaged by subsistence farmers with their slash-and-burn farming methods, and by mineral companies in their rapacious drive for profit, because they are on  treacherously  mountainous terrain.   No more.  The rich land grabbers, lured by the scenic beauty of having their mansions on these mountainous areas, are defying all odds, spending three times more money to build their mansions on these mountains than if it were on flat ground, and causing irreversible and miasmic damage to the Creole (and national) heritage.

The Alarming Bio-Diversity Loss

Last week, I led youth from the Coalition of University Students’ Activists, and Youth Arise!!!, to get edification from Dr. ShekaKamara of the Biological Sciences Department of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, on the Western  Area  Peninsular Forest Reserve (WAPFoR).  WAPFoR, occupying the centre of the peninsula, covers about 17,000 hectares of closed forest.  WAPFoR  hosts a range of hills with a highest peak at 971 meters.   There is alarming ecological degradation ongoing in the WAPFoR.

Dr. Kamara told us that “biodiversity loss apart”,  these forests serve as “water catchment” areas for nearly all the about 2 million people living in the Freetown peninsular.    In simple words, the water that flows into dams, and small rivers, where most people get their water from to drink and cook food with, and wash clothes, etc.  come from these forests.  You destroy the forests in these mountains and you starve people of water in nearly all of Freetown.  Already, in most of Freetown, there is severe  already water shortage.  This results not only in serious dehydration, but, most of the common diseases in Freetown today – cholera and typhoid – are contracted through unmoving   almost-dried-up streams, or, people coming from toilet and not having water to wash their hands.

In the survey costing $40,000, Dr.ShekaKamara’s university team  just last year tried to measure the quantum and quality of plant and animal life in just  two percent of  land area of the WAPFoR.  They discovered 128 species of trees; and 58 species of undergrowth.   The highest number of these families  are called ‘legumimosae’.   The Kent village forest has the lowest numbers of species – whilst the forest around No 2 River has the highest number of species.  The forest in the Kossoh Town area has the highest species diversity.   Regent village area – where the new United States embassy is located; and, which is the ‘in place’ for the burgeoning elite – has an alarming single species that is endemic to it: that compares with NINE SPECIES endemic to No 2 River, where the elite have not started building their houses yet.   They were able to discover 160 species of birds – with 120 of these species ‘resident species’.  (While some were ‘migratory birds’, coming from distant Europe).    There is good news: most of the forests are still in the Guinea Congo Biome stage – a reason why there are  still much appreciable diversity of birds.

Biologist, G. D. Field,  carried out work in the 1960s and early 1970s and recorded 316 species of birds.  In 1990, Ausden and Wood recorded 186 species over a period of three months. A total of 374 species, including occasional vagrants and migrants that visit water bodies within the forest, were recorded.

Before the ‘rebel war’ of the 1990s, before the elite in Freetown started rushing to construct their mansions on the mountains of Freetown as if there was a ‘gold rush’, one could easily bump into many species of mammals in the forests of Freetown.  Authoritative studies done twenty years ago revealed that these mountains harbour over 50 species of mammals, of which seven species are primates, five of which were threatened even then  – Western chimpanzee (En), Red Colobus monkey (Vu), Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, Sooty Mangabey (NT) and Diana monkey (Vu). Other threatened mammals include Leopard (Vu), Jentink’s Duiker (Vu), Black Duiker (NT) and Maxwell Duiker (NT). An endemic toad Cardioglosusaureolli could also be found.  Dr. ShekaKamara’ssurvey  in 2012 could only identify 7 mammals – monkeys, squirrels, etc.

Management of the forests is now ‘National Security’ Matter

The management of the forest reserve is the mandate of the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS). The reserve was declared in 1916 and ‘gazetted’ as a non-hunting forest reserve in 1973.  The conservation of WAPFoR has been identified as an issue of National Security by H.E.  Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone. In 2011, President Koroma’s government   approved a revised demarcation line and protection mechanism of WAPFoR.  The APC-majority   Parliament is considering the declaration of “Nature Park Western Area”.   Before his first term ended, President Koroma  ordered the establishment of a Presidential Task Force to ensure long-standing environmental protection of the Reserve.  This consisted  of MAFFS, Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and Environment  ministry (MLPCE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-SL) and Ministry of Electricity and Power (MEP), Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Office of National Security (ONS).    There are debates ongoing for the establishment of a Forest Protected Area Authority.  The touristic and cultural assets of the Western Area Peninsula are managed by the department of  culture in the tourism ministry; and the National Tourist Board; and  the villages in the reserve area.  All these appears to be mere semantics, given the flagrant land grabbing perpetuated today in these mountains.  So much so that the forest guards last month  told the German-born Manager of the WAPFoR that there is absolute need for military assistance.

Tourism Potential will be Destroyed if we don’t Conserve the Forests

Last week, the Deputy Minister of tourism/culture, KadieSesay, along with NASSIT Director-General, Sam Bangura, National Tourist Board’s Cecil Williams, apparently taking a cue from the President’s warning at Tokeh Beach, went to inspect hotels being constructed under the aegis of world’s leading hotel chains – Cape Sierra (Hilton) and Mamie Yoko (RedissonBlu).  (Details on this in subsequent articles).   One thing that is clear to me is that there must be massive sensitization of all the citizenry, especially in Freetown, to develop a ‘Tourism Culture’ here.   Destroy the forests in WAPFoR and all the millions of dollars being spent to construct five star hotels – and the opportunities for yearly billions of dollars income; and thousands of jobs being created – would come to go up in smoke.

Oswald Hanciles, Freetown

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