25th July 2017
Importers' President Questions the Finance Minister’s Competence!
By the Ranger (05/06/17)
A rare attack by the President of the Importers Association Alpha Alhaji T. Jalloh after questioning the integrity of the Finance Minister!!
Mr. Jalloh, the Importers President openly questioned the competence of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mr Momodu L. Kargbo (pictured) for advising President Ernest Koroma on the Finance Act of 2017 which culminated in His Excellency’s refusal to append his signature to the Act sent by Parliament.
Alpha Jalloh made this blast on Friday May 26 in the early morning programme ‘Good Morning Salone’ Radio Democracy when he intimated that President Koroma should have called them to hear their views as has been his usual practice. “But we are disappointed that as traders our views on our country’s economy were not sought on the Finance Act of 2017,” he noted.
The Importers boss then called into question the competence of the Finance Minister to advise the president on trading matters as he is not a real trader. “I doubt the level of expertise of those invited to discuss trading matters without us,” Mr. Jalloh blasted.
However, critics are not impressed with Alpha Jalloh’s open blast. “Has he forgotten that the Finance Acts of 2016 & 2017 was put together by the Finance Ministry? Interestingly, Alpha Jalloh claims to be a businessman dealing in stationery and office equipment whilst the Minister of Finance deals with all financial matters concerning the state including ways of making the economy grow,” the PR department of the Finance Minister responded.
Between the two who is more qualified to give advice to the president? It is obvious that the Importers’ President is only interested in what will generate profit for importers than in the national good.
The Importers President went on to say that they had 53 containers at the quay when the 2016 Finance Act was passed and they had to send them back to where they came from.
One wonders if someone from another country in the sub-region was to pay for good quantity of goods from him and after some weeks when the goods have been dispatched to their destination and in the custody of the buyer as he has received the bill of laden, will he accept a return of those goods?
As absurd as these claims are, one wonders if those goods were not later transported to the neighbouring countries and later smuggled into Sierra Leone. He also said that they will comply with His Excellency’s decision.
On the Local Content Policy, Alpha T. Jalloh said that they have in their employ several Sierra Leoneans and that he was also a citizen of this country. He also disclosed that traders along Sani Abacha Street and ECOWAS Street buy from them. What he failed to realise is that the Local Content Policy is not only about traders, but includes providing jobs for people, encouraging farmers and other indigenous businesses.
He boasted about traders being millionaires; well what the president is focused on when he introduced the Local Content Policy is the creation of an enabling environment where the less privileged will be able to access job and the ordinary farmers in the village be able to produce and realise something reasonable from his Labour.
He envisages a situation where Sierra Leoneans will be self-sufficient in food crops and will not have to import essential commodities. A situation where the ordinary man will be able to put food on the table for his family and the country be able to export and raise its foreign exchange reserve.
Alpha Jalloh seems to think only about the short term whilst President Koroma looks at the long term. It is important to know that the country cannot grow if it depends on importation.
The condemnation of the Sierra Leone Brewery Ltd by Alpha Jalloh is a diversion from the real issues. No comparison can be drawn between the importers and the company as the number of Sierra Leonean staff in its employ is far above the numbers employed by the importers.
Conditions of service offered to those workers in the company’s employ are better catered for than those in the employ of importers despite these importers are ‘millionaires’. When asked about the origins of beverages sold on the market when importers did not import them, Mr. Jalloh said that he did not know.
Is it that the importers decided to force the government to reverse the 2016 Act by hoarding their goods and thereby sabotage the government’s effort to collect taxes? Time will tell. Alpha T. Jalloh should have respect for the Minister of Finance and team who prepared both bills and advise the Sierra Leone president on all financial matters.