As She Outlines FCC’s Position on New Property Rates… Yvonne Aki Sawyer Poised to Transform Freetown

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Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC), Yvonne Aki-Sawyer

By Amin Kef Sesay

In an interview granted to this medium by Her Worship, the Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC), Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, during which she was asked whether she failed to follow due process in the introduction of a new property tax system in Freetown and because of that was lambasted followed by her subsequent apology, she responded by saying that making certain clarifications was necessary. She said in a meeting held with the Minister of Local Government, Tamba Lamina, the Minister’s position was that FCC did not follow the provision of LGA 2003 Sections 69-72.

The Mayor stated, however, that she made reference to the guidelines being provided by the Ministry of Local Government further stating that she addressed certain points raised by the Minister as she had earlier done in a letter sent to the Minister.

“I went on to explain that FCC adopted a points based system that is already in use in other cities in SL assuming that the guidelines apply,” she explained further.

The Mayor highlighted how she suggested that the Ministry and FCC must address whatever legal gaps the Minister felt there were whilst proceeding with the new system. According to her, the Minister said that Government’s position is that FCC should stop using the new system and revert to the old manual property rate roll.

“In my response I said that I believe this is a matter of legal interpretation and would take advice from FCC’s legal advisors. I noted that the old manual roll of properties would need to be printed and distributed and that would cost millions and leave out the additional 67,279 properties,” she underscored.

Aki-Sawyer pointed out that she explained about the Appeals Desk, the timing for payment not being till 31st December 2020, pensioner policy etc. including how Council is very respective of Government’s position as they also do not want to cause hardship for Freetonians.

“No one is being asked to pay till 31st December but FCC will not stop the property rate reform implementation on the basis of the meeting as legal advice is required. This DFID funded project has cost £1m, has been implemented with the support of two internationally recognized consultancies with vast tax experience and expertise (IGC and ICTD) and is critical to enable FCC to meet it running costs and deliver services to Freetonians,” she succinctly anchored.

She revealed how no explanation was given about the non-payment of fiscal transfers, during the meeting, even as she explained that they have not paid their 566 members of staff for the past two months.

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