As SLPP Govt Promised Bread & Butter… High Taxes on Essential Commodities Scaling Up Cost of Living

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

In Sierra Leone, the burden of high living costs persists, largely attributed to the imposition of taxes on essential commodities by specific business entities. The Government, facing a pressing need for revenue in a largely unproductive economy, relies heavily on taxes as a primary means of mobilization. However, this strategy inadvertently leads to a vicious cycle where businesses, compelled to offset tax expenses, raise prices, ultimately causing economic strain for the majority of citizens.

Contrary to the promises made by the ruling SLPP Government to usher in a period of economic prosperity,  upon assuming power, the reality of exorbitant prices makes the envisioned “Bread and Butter” lifestyle unattainable for many Sierra Leoneans.

Traditionally, the private sector is viewed as the engine for economic growth, generating employment opportunities and contributing significantly to revenue mobilization through tax payments. It is imperative for any Government to foster an environment conducive to private sector growth, as it plays a pivotal role in national development.

However, when policies or laws suffocate the business sector, hindering its growth, the consequences are dire. This scenario not only impedes development but also translates into high prices for locally produced or imported goods and services, burdening consumers further.

A prime example of this plight is the soaring price of butter, rendering it inaccessible to many households. The steep increase in price can be directly attributed to elevated taxes, including a 30% rise in import duty, a 10% increase in excise tax, and a 15% hike in GST. Importers now face substantially higher costs, reflected in the final price consumers must pay.

While it’s acknowledged that the Government requires revenue, it’s essential to recognize the adverse impact of disproportionately high taxes on the majority of Sierra Leoneans already struggling to make ends meet. Such policies risk exacerbating poverty levels in the country.

In light of these concerns, it is incumbent upon the Government, particularly the National Revenue Authority (NRA), to reassess their tax policies and take corrective measures to alleviate the burden on citizens.


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