Taxation Woes Overshadow Government’s Commitment to Essential Needs

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

The Sierra Leonean populace finds itself grappling with a mounting cost of living, attributed directly to the tax policies implemented by the Government, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the National Revenue Authority (NRA). Businesses, ranging from large enterprises to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), along with importers and retailers, are feeling the weight of increased taxation, as consumer prices soar.

In what was promised as an era of accessibility to basic necessities during political campaigns, the reality contrasts sharply. The recent Finance Act has not seen a relaxation of taxes but rather witnessed increases, adversely affecting businesses and exacerbating the standard of living for many citizens.

A prime example lies in the realm of consumables like butter and rice, household staples for many Sierra Leoneans. The imposition of higher taxes on imported butter has led to a significant price hike, with importers facing elevated costs due to a 30% rise in import duty, a 10% increase in excise tax, and a 15% hike in GST.

Similarly, the restoration of a 5% import duty tax on rice has contributed to inflated prices, further burdening households.

The Government’s desperate need for revenue, amidst a limited scope of productive activities and a bloated wage bill, underscores the pressing situation. Despite electoral promises and initiatives such as the “5 Game Changers,” which aimed at transformative development, the reality paints a grim picture of economic strain.

Critics call for a reevaluation of mining policies, highlighting the untapped potential of the country’s mineral resources. With current taxation primarily burdening businesses without substantial benefits to the populace, calls for policy revisions grow louder.

In response, there are mounting demands for the Government, particularly the Ministry of Finance, to revisit tax policies and prioritize measures to alleviate the economic plight of citizens. The emphasis lies on reducing the prices of essential commodities and exploring alternative avenues for revenue generation to mitigate widespread hardship and prevent political repercussions.

As the struggle for economic relief persists, the Government faces the challenge of balancing revenue mobilization with the imperative of improving the livelihoods of its citizens, recognizing that continued hardship risks eroding its political support.


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