2020 Finance Bill Becomes Law

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Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa

By Sam Pratt

After the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa read and tabled the 2020 Finance Bill in Parliament on the 8th November 2019,the Parliament of Sierra Leone on Tuesday 12th November 2019 extensively debated and passed into law late yesterday 13th November 2019 with some amendments the Bill entitled: “The Finance Act, 2020”. The Bill is aimed at the alteration and imposition of taxes for the services of the Republic of Sierra Leone for the Financial Year 2020.

The Minister of Finance; Jacob Jusu Saffa, said among other things that the Act was seeking to provide for the imposition and alteration of taxes as to give effect to the financial proposals of the Government and to provide for other related matters for the 2020 financial year.

The Minister also informed MPs that the Bill would enhance some economic prudence and foster growth which would improve best practices relating to the management of public finances.

Contributing to the debate, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sidie M. Tunis said that Finance Bills always had issues, adding that the Minister of Finance deserves accolades for making this particular one so thorough. “We have a very, very good Finance Act for 2020 and with this the Bread and Butter Budget will succeed,” he said in a joyful mood. He also assured Members of Parliament who contributed to the healthy debate that the concerns raised would be addressed at a later stage.

On his part, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah said that the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party would support the Act, saying that MPs are under obligation to make sure that the Minister of Finance succeeds for the good of the nation. He also expressed hope for an economic boom by the year 2020.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Finance Committee in Parliament, Hon. Francis Amara Kaisamba explained the importance of the Bill, stating that a lot of amendments had been made in order to put the document together to match up with the 2020 National Budget. “75% of the expenditure in any budget is generated by the Government, while the balance is funded by donors,” he stated. He also used the opportunity to appeal to colleague MPs to look at the Bill with a national lens.

Hon. Daniel Koroma of APC asked the Minister to give due consideration to the taxpayers, whilst encouraging the Minister to introduce better and newer ways to generate funds for Government to undertake development programmes in the country.

Hon. P.C. Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III of Tonkolili District appealed for the reduction of taxes on some companies in order to continue their promotional services in their areas of operations. “If you tax the poor people to provide money for the rich, you will have economic growth without economic development,” he informed the Minister. The Paramount Chief also asked the Minister to focus on job creation through the establishment of industries and viable agricultural interventions to reduce importation.

Hon. P.C Kontanday M’briwa of Kono District called on the Minister to consider equal distribution of resources at the chiefdom level for actual development initiatives to take place in the rural communities.

Hon. Abdul Kargbo of APC criticized the Ministry of Finance for establishing a Procurement Directorate, noting that it was not proper and such conduct was counter-productive to the operations of NPPA (National Public Procurement Authority), adding that all MDAs are supposed to have a unit and not a directorate.

Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of SLPP called on the Minister not to change the supervisory functions of Rokel Commercial and Sierra Leone Commercial Banks by the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) and give it to the Ministry of Finance. He also asked the Minister to reconsider his decision and give support to the local companies in order to create more jobs, so as to reduce importation and to pay keen attention on auction to maximize huge benefits for the State.

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