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Sierra Leone: Government not ready to pass FOI Act

Plm.Secretary to Cabinet, Ernest Surrur has disclosed that the Freedom of Information Bill currently in Parliament will not be passed into an Act at least for now, because of what he said is “the poor records management within Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He made this statement over the weekend while chairing a sensitization forum organized by the Public Sector Reform Secretariat for civil servants at the Miatta Conference hall in Freetown.
He said government needs to put in place “a proper mechanism” that will ensure proper records management to include filing and storage. “This is important because once the Act is passed MDAs would be held to account for information that are considered of public interest,” Mr. Surrur stated.
“As at now, government is working towards improving its records management system through the Public Sector Reform Secretariat by digitalizing all its records,” the Cabinet Secretary noted.
Munir Kawa of the Records Management Office at the Public Sector Reform Unit said confirmed this when he stated, “we are currently working towards the improvement of our records management.”
He explained that the Records Management Office was established in 2005 and since then, they have managed a good number of government records and they have also verified some civil servants, teachers and other MDAs.
Mr. Kawa however revealed that the Records Unit “is faced with serious funding constraints” disclosing also that they only undertake documentation projects when they are contracted by development agencies. He said it is extremely important that government maintains a sustainable records management.
The Director General of the Human Resource Management, A. Bayoh said the Public Sector Reform Unit has been instituted to reform the civil service in order to enhance increased productivity of government services.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Public Sector Reform Unit, Mohamed Yoki said there has been an improved service in government businesses since the establishment of the unit and that reforms have also been carried out in some of the MDAs.
The Director of Public Sector Reform Unit, Sidratu Koroma said they are reforming the public sector by improving services provided by government officials.
She also said that in the past, government had recorded low productivity but with the advent of the Public Sector Reform Unit, there has been “significant improvement in services and coordination of government activities.”
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kaifala Marrah earlier delivered the keynote address and officially declared open the forum.
By Saidu Bah

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