25th July 2017
Local Farmers and Manufacturers Prefer the Finance Act 2016 to 2017 Bill
By the Ranger (27/06/17)
Local farmers and manufacturers in Sierra Leone have openly sided the Finance Act 2016 denouncing the 2017 Act as bad for business.
After much public debate about its advantages and disadvantages, President Koroma is reported to have sent back with his comments the Finance Bill 2017 that was sent to him by Parliament for ratification. (Pictured: Agriculture Minister Professor Monty Jones).
In the main, the 2017 Bill seeks to revoke the added excise tax that was imposed on importers of alcoholic drinks manufactured overseas in the Finance Act 2016.
Parliament in ratifying the Finance Bill 2017 went by the advice of the National Revenue Authority that since the Finance Act 2016 was passed, the country has been losing billions of Leones in unrealised excise duty on imported alcohol.
A major opponent of the proposed Finance Act 2017 has been the Sierra Leone Sorghum Farmers Association which boasts of a membership of over 25,000 countrywide.
According to its chairman, Dennis Jusu, the Finance Bill 2017 if passed into law will reverse the gains made under the Local Content Policy which is intended to empower Sierra Leonean owned businesses to have a greater share in the production market.
He furthered argued that if the Agenda for Prosperity is to be achieved, Sierra Leonean enterprises have to increase, leading to the creation of more jobs and incomes. He stated that allowing the cheap importation of alcoholic beverages benefits only a few importers and overseas manufacturers.
"What we lose from import duties will be gained by increased locally generated taxes and multiplier effect on the economy, employment and agricultural development,” Jusu affirmed.
Those in favour of the Finance Act 2016 maintain that in the medium to long term, it will encourage local entrepreneurship as it will reduce the loss of foreign exchange.
“Until more and more goods for consumption by the local markets are produced here, Sierra Leone cannot hope to eventually gain higher gross domestic productivity and economic independence,” one of the supporters of the Finance Act 2016 noted.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the President’s comments are about the Finance Bill 2017 that he has sent back to Parliament for amendment.