Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 November 2019:
The cost of flying to sierra Leone is expected to fall by as much as fifteen percent early next year, if the country’s parliamentarians approve the government’s 2020 Budget statement tabled in parliament last Friday, by finance minister – Jacob Jusu Saffa.
Presenting his budget statement for next year to MPs, the finance minister said “the 2020 Finance Bill, which I will lay for enactment by this Honourable House, proposes several policy measures to increase revenue and at the same time create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive and create employment opportunities.
“These include: ……..All aviation related charges will be exempt from the payment of GST. These include landing and parking fees, aircraft towing, aircraft cleaning, baggage handling, aircraft security as well as aircraft fuelling.
“The objective is to reduce the cost of travel to Sierra Leone in order to boost tourism and create job opportunities.”
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption on all aviation related charges is expected to take effect in 2020, after the enactment of the 2020 Finance Bill.
Sierra Leone is one of the most expensive countries to fly to in the region. Whereas cost of a direct return flight ticket from London to Banjul in just under seven hours could cost as little as £350, passengers will pay almost twice that to get to Freetown from London – indirect, which could take over fourteen hours.
The high cost of airline tickets to Freetown and the discomfort of not having direct flights from London, is seriously affecting the country’s tourism industry.
Speaking about the proposed lifting of aviation related taxes by the government, the Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) – Mr Moses Tiffa Baio, said that this decision demonstrates government’s strong political will to develop the aviation industry in Sierra Leone, boost the country’s tourism industry and promote economic growth.
“The elimination of GST on all aviation related charges at the Freetown International Airport opens the door to multiple opportunities of which the reduction of airline ticket prices in Sierra Leone is the key.
“Before now, airport charges and taxes levied on airline operations had direct impact on ticket cost which resulted to increase in air tickets. The tax exemption will reduce cost of operations for the airlines and thus foster industry growth and contribute to the promotion of Air transport and tourism in Sierra Leone,” Baio said.
He said that effort to build a safe, secure, sound and economically viable aviation system in Sierra Leone has been one of the top priorities of the Bio-led New Direction government.
Before the move to eliminate GST on aviation related charges, the government had reduced all airport taxes levied on airline tickets.
The government believes that, with these tax reductions backed up by the plan implementation of Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Government of Sierra Leone, it is expected that air ticket prices will be reduced considerably in 2020 and beyond.
This is a step in the right direction by encouraging tourism since the mining industry has been responsible for most of the massive corruption and destructions in our country. Most prosperous nation around the world made tremendous economic progress without the blessing of mineral resources like diamond, gold, iron ore and rutile. I hope and pray that this tax break will serve as an incentive to lower the price of airlines which will definitely increase the number of tourists visiting our country.
I will also like to thank Mr. Reinhard Wiechad for mentioning Turkish Airlines . Also with the Electricity and Agricultural projects which is now a major player in the economy of our country, justifies the decision of the New Direction government to open an embassy in the Turkish Capital.
Today I looked in the internet for a flight to Freetown from Germany. In former times I came to Freetown on Brussels airline for about 700 euro. Now I believe Brussels airline has stopped flights to Freetown. All other companies are now much more expensive. Only Turkish airlines has the same price but you have to go first to Istanbul and will take 20-30 hours instead of 8 hours from Belgium.
This government among others is the most transparent government I have ever come to know since I became a conscious youth. This government ensures that the Appropriation Act is always made available to members of the public. Unlike the previous government, it is very hard to access the Appropriation Act. Sometimes when this is done, it comes out late. To prove my claim, go to the Sierra Leone Web website which archives all legislations passed in parliament.
This is one thing to note that, members of this SLPP government are always aware of the fact that it is public money they are managing; and are always cautious of how they expend it. Unlike members of the previous government, whenever, they are in power they just assume that it is their own money. That is why they are always impatient when they lose power.
Thanks to the Commissioner of the Anti-corruption commission and the good political will of the government headed by the president for ensuring that we fight corruption. Most of the Sierra Leone civil servants who do not want to account for their stewardship to members of the public are those who always hail the reign of corrupt governments.
These minority civil servants – be it heads of departments, directors, commissioners, chairpersons, commanders, permanent secretaries drawn from all categories of tribes and regions, always find comfort in the reign of corrupt governments, while the mass population suffers. Stay focused sir, God is with you to help fight this menace. The fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has nothing to do with tribalism. There are corrupt people in all tribes in Sierra Leone.
I give credit to people who always cast the blame on government about tribalism without reference. However, I believe that because the youths are vulnerable, that is why they are groomed by selfish or self interest individuals that use them to pose a threat to our beloved nation, by igniting such horific acts, forgetting that Sierra Leone has for far too long suffered from such horrors.
Therefore, we should not in any way bring such memories back again, but to encourage positivity. So many inter marriages have broken such evil barriers. It is time for us to start thinking wisely and do not let any one use us again. Our future lies in our hands.
Well, as usual it all sounds great on paper.(lol) I will wait and see if this drastic reduction in the prices of airline tickets ever becomes a sustainable reality. I will wait, because the words of a Financial executioner with a cruel hangman’s noose in his hands cannot be trusted.
Certainly going to wait because the ceaseless, brazen deceptions, bogus, empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises have been far too many, for even a mathematical genius to be able to count. (lol) I will wait because sound judgement tells me to do so. Reducing the prices of airline tickets in itself is not enough to give a much needed boost to the Tourism industry; there’s an A to Z list that must be meticulously examined and checked, before any amount of success can be realized in the nearest future.
Sincerely, what this country urgently news is the advice of experts,and consultants like Mr Williams – You know what I mean – thoughtful, decisive and practical men that can roll up their sleeves, and deal with complicated issues and problems with great enthusiasm, pragmatism and skill. The SLPP cannot boast of having such rare kinds of levelheaded men under that scrappy umbrella of theirs, riddled with holes.(lol)
I give them credit though, for being the best at the art of disorganised governance, promotion of tribalism, underhanded, shady activity, acts of incompetence and mindless, compulsive, extravagance…hands down, they are the winners.(lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.
So you thought Koroma and the APC was responsible? At least Maada Bio has honorable intentions.