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Judiciary finally meets FPAC, laments lack of financial autonomy

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By Tabora Bojang

A few days after a row between the Judiciary and the National Assembly on one hand, the National Audit Office on the other, members of the third arm of government finally went to the assembly yesterday over its financial activities and audit matters, following their non-appearance last week.

Fatou Jarra-Houma, the financial controller at the Judiciary, lamented before NAMs that the judiciary lacks autonomy in its financial and administrative operations as its finances continue to be managed by the Ministry of Finance contrary to the provisions of the constitution. She argued that the 1997 Constitution provided the right to the Chief Justice as the head of Judiciary to be allocated funds for the operation and administration of the Judiciary on a quarterly basis.

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“But the Ministry of Finance will always say that the we [Judiciary] is part of the national cake [sic] and cannot be given quarterly allocations but must follow the same trend as other ministries,” Ms. Houma said.

According to the financial controller, the Judiciary is yet to enjoy financial autonomy in its operation even though its funds are decentralised from the main operations of the Accountant General.

“We still don’t have the Judicial Service Commission regulations and we use the Public Service Commission regulations. We don’t have our own pay scale. We use the government pay scale and before we come here, we heard from the PMO that we should not. As far as the judiciary is concerned, we don’t have any donor funding, projects. We just rely on allocations, expenditure, revenue and payment of salaries. The staff are paid based on grade scale from 1 to 12 and all the emoluments of the central government is what we are benefitting from. So we have no autonomy at the Judiciary as far as financial and administrative operations are concerned.”

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