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24th June 2018

Difficult Ramadan for Muslims as the SLPP Government Increases Tariffs in Sierra Leone!

By Abdulai Kychom (26/05/18)

The increment of tariffs during the Holy Month of Ramadan has brought untold sufferings on the Muslim Community across the country. 

 

Barely less than two months since Sierra Leone’s last multi-tier elections and two weeks since his inauguration and officially receiving the staff of office from former President Ernest Koroma, the euphoria that accompanied President Julius Maada Bio into office has dissipated rapidly like the evaporation of water in the dry seasons. (Photo: First Lady Fatima Bio, right, in one of her many visits at Mosques).

"Any serious government worth it’s salt will take concrete steps to ensure that prices of basic food stuffs and essential commodities do not spiral out of control during this Holy Month to showcase their love and care for the Muslim Ummah and Sierra Leoneans generally," a trader, Alhaji Musa Sesay at Sani Abacha Street opined.

He went on to note that they (traders) haven’t seen any move by this government through its new Minister of Trade and Industry Peter Bayuku Conteh to engage importers, traders and consumers on the way forward regarding the skyrocketing of prices of essentials in the market.

Based on a spontaneous market survey recently, the goods in high demand during the month of fasting are rice, flour, sugar, oil, onions, tomatoes, vegetable, fish and meat. Prices for these products normally skyrocket during the month of Ramadan.

"It’s worst this year because we are in a transition and the government doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to the welfare of Muslims because it’s not a priority," Aminata Swarray, a petty trader at ECOWAS street told this writer.

She called on the new government to monitor the wholesale market and the importation of goods into the country especially during Ramadan. "Not that government is solely responsible for the uncontrollable hike in the prices of basic goods and service, but it should keep an eye on notorious traders who are always anxious to take advantage of this season," she admitted.
 


Madam Swarray went on to advise her fellow traders to sell decently and avoid making 'head-to-head' profit at the disadvantage of the poor masses who end up at the receiving end of this madness and selfishness.

The past APC government made frantic efforts by way of assistance to traders to keep prices in check. But this isn’t the case today as the prices of everything from food stuffs to building materials have blown through the roof. "We call on the SLPP government to look into our plight soonest to ensure we have a worthwhile month of fasting," a member of the Traders Union said.

Gbassay Kamara, a mother of three, selling her wares at PZ Roundabout in Central Freetown claimed that the SLPP government has decided to punish the Muslim Community as they are in the majority in the North and West of the country. Or is it because they overwhelmingly voted for the APC party? She’s very suspicious of this government given the fact that it has done nothing to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor during this Month of Ramadan.

"Another problem that’s making life very difficult for the common man and woman in running a business is electricity. Running a generator at 12 gallons a day is not sustainable especially when it’s done for long hours," Gbassay noted.

It would be recalled there were certain adjustments made to the 2017 and 2018 Finance Act which were not implemented during the last government but has now been implemented by this new administration. These changes affect the price of cooking oil as well as crude oil.

In terms of percentage, there has been an increase of 20% from 5% for Crude oil. Water from 20 to 30% and Flour from 10 to 20%. These increases are making life almost unbearable for the poor all across Sierra Leone. The sooner this government focuses on reducing the suffering of the masses the better it would be for not only the people but also the very government itself.

As we go to press, all efforts to contact the newly approved Minister of Trade and Industry Peter Bayuku Conteh for the government’s side of this developing situation proved futile.

TRIBUTE: ALPHA SHAW


1958 -1980

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