Sierra Leone Brewery to Shut Down If…

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

According to unconfirmed news so far accessed by this medium, at an entertainment spot,, particularly from certain individuals, learnt to be members of staff of the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) , a  staff downsizing  of  process is currently underway  within the company and may continue culminating to the ultimate shutting down of operations.

According to them the current situation could be attributed to teething challenges that the company is seriously grappling with after the enactment of the 2024 Finance Act.

Not aware that they were discussing with journalists, they went on to reveal that the emergence of this ugly development has left most of the employees of the company sad and worried about their employment status.

They also expressed the lamenting view that the retrenchment Management decision, that was communicated to them recently during a meeting, with the current redundancy of 6 percent of the staff with another 4 percent to go in early April, also has the propensity of seriously affecting over 25,000 sorghum farmers and their dependants right across the country as the company will continue to streamline its operations to a minimum level with further possibility of finally winding up.

“The situation is really scary and from what I certainly know, over 15,000 Sierra Leoneans will lose direct and indirect jobs and these include distributors, drivers, vendors, if it really comes to the worse,” one of them passionately bemoaned furthering how the host communities, closer to where the company is situated, will stop benefitting from SLBL’s Corporate Social Responsibility.

When this medium undertook an in-depth investigation, to have a better understanding of the situation, it was discovered that since the 2024 Finance Act was reviewed and promulgated it has seriously affected the operations of the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) especially as the Act makes provision for competitive imported products or beverages to gain momentum mainly reducing the cost on imported products, including beverages and increases dues on local production. In actual fact, the Act harmonizes Excise Duty Rates for domestic and import sectors except for beer and stout.

Further revealed was that, in contrast, the 2016 Finance Act was friendlier to local manufacturers, including the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL), as it provided incentives to companies that use at least 80% of their products in the country’s production.  With the passage of the 2016 Finance Act, it gave the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited the impetus to willingly purchase sorghum and cassava grown in the country as well as acquiring machinery that produces 100% sorghum beer.

More importantly, there was an increase in Excise Tax for imported alcoholic drinks with the aim of encouraging companies to brew beer and alcoholic drinks with locally grown sorghum and cassava.

The use of sorghum and cassava for the production of beer, stout and other products was spelt out in Section 23 of the Act. For locally manufactured alcoholic drinks of more than 10% alcoholic content, the rate of excise was 30% and locally manufactured beer of more than 80% locally produced raw materials including sorghum and cassava, the rate of excise was 5%.

That Section of the Act was really meant to create a market for growers of sorghum and cassava and increase the number of agricultural jobs as spelt out in the post Ebola recovery document of the country.

It was clearly obvious that the country was gaining from the implementation of both Sections 22 and 23 of the  2016 Finance Act  by increasing revenue and  creating  more agricultural jobs  for smallholder farmers.

It was against that backdrop that  the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL), in 2019 cleared four massive storage bright beer tanks from the Queen Elizabeth 11 Quay that were installed at its Wellington Industrial Estate production site . The four massive storage beer tanks were geared towards the further expansion of the company’s capacity as well as to help improve the quality of its beer products.

Prior to that, in July 2017, the company successfully installed seven new fermentation tanks to enable it satisfy current and future consumer demand.

SLBL’s total investment in Sierra Leone within that period rose to more than Le. 180 Billion and with the installation of seven massive Fermentation Storage Tanks (“FSTs”) the production capacity of the Brewery doubled.

However, with all the huge investments that were made, however, it is lamentable that the unfriendliness of the 2024 Finance Act, with provisions that are adversely affecting the profit margins of the company, it is obvious that inevitably such will impact negatively on the Brewery’s operational cost.

With such a reality lucking in the horizon, if the apprehension of the aforementioned members of staff is something to go by, especially with the looming closure of the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, then such an unfortunate situation is bound to increase the unemployment rate in the country and create undue hardship for many.


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