Kobi Walker says Finance Act 2023 has Debilitating Effects on Businesses in Sierra Leone

On May Day…

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and the Sierra Leone Employers’ Federation has on Monday 1st of May, 2023 joined the world to commemorate this year’s International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day on the theme: “Ensuring Democratic Governance for Peace and Security.”  The commemoration of the day was held at the Royal Hall of Family Kingdom, on Aberdeen in Freetown.

Giving the opening statement, the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Employers’ Federation (SLEF), Ambassador Kobi Walker, intimated that the day serves as a lasting remembrance and to reaffirm and assure their commitments.

While expressing his warmest greetings and immense gratitude to all diligent workers who are the true force behind the nation’s prosperity and progress, he, however, added that it is essential to have a social gathering to address the concerns of workers and to maintain an equitable and healthy working environment for all.

He maintained that the International Workers’ Day serves as a powerful reminder for all to reaffirm their commitment to improving the welfare of employees and ensuring their rights are protected which he said is not only a social and moral obligation but also a crucial element in ensuring democratic governance for peace and security.

Kobi Walker stated that in line with this objective, the Federation is dedicated to promoting fair labor practices, social protection and a healthy working environment that is conducive to personal growth and organizational success.

“As we celebrate May Day, we also recognize that peace and security depend on our ability to create opportunities for meaningful employment, provide workers with the necessary tools and training to excel in their careers, and ensure that their voices are heard and respected,” he noted.

He said that to achieve this, the Federation will continue to collaborate with policymakers, unions, and civil society in formulating inclusive policies that are responsive to the evolving needs of the labor market.

“We firmly believe that through dialogue, understanding, and collective action, we can address existing challenges and contribute to a stronger and more resilient workforce,” he stated.

The Chairman of the Federation used the opportunity to plead to His Excellency on behalf of the Employers’ Federation to kindly review the Finance Act 2023, adding that as corporate soldiers they will certainly obey and complain as they believe the implementation of the Finance Act 2023 will have a debilitating effect on various businesses in the country.

“Mr. President, a cross-section of the Private Sector, which includes Business Member Organisations (BMOs), Industry Leaders and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have reviewed the Finance Act 2023 and believe that it includes significant changes to the tax legislation that will adversely impact businesses in Sierra Leone, worsen the already challenging business climate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine War and potentially bring about additional suffering for a population already wrestling with a greatly increased cost of living,” he maintained.

Kobi Walker said that although the Government has always engaged the private sector on new tax changes, the Finance Act 2023 came as a surprise to the sector, as there were no consultations prior to it being enacted by Parliament, furthering that as the Private Sector is keen to work with the Government to meet its revenue generation targets, it is also cautious that some of the provisions may result in lower revenue generation, business closures and job losses and in addition, these new regulations could further deter new investment-both domestic and foreign- if the investment climate is deemed hostile to the private sector.

On his part, the Acting President of the Labour Congress, Mohamed Salieu Bangura, disclosed that, the theme was carefully selected to reflect the aspirations of the workers towards the conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on the 24th June, 2023.

According to him, that will guarantee peace and security which are the main ingredients for investment, sustainable socio-economic development and political stability noting that, the day is to celebrate the social and economic achievements of workers.

He highlighted some challenges that workers are faced with, which are; the constant violation of human and trade union rights by some institutions in both the private and public sectors, such as unfair and wrongful termination or dismissal of workers.

‘’Non implementation of collective agreements by Government institutions and employers in the private sector, lack of adequate consultations by Government and some institutions  with the Unions on relating issues to the welfare of workers are some of the challenges faced, ‘’ he stated.

The representative of the keynote Speaker, who was President Julius Maada Bio, the Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura affirmed that Government is committed to improve the status of workers in the country and to ensure that the concerns as well as issues affecting workers in the country are addressed.

He continued that the passage of the Finance Act and the Labour Act are all steps in the right direction to improve the status of workers in the country furthering that as a Government they will ensure that peace and security are maintained for all workers in the country.


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