Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 November 2019:
The budget and financial statement for next year, put forward to parliament by finance minister Jacob Jusu Saffa was approved and passed into law by MPs in parliament yesterday.
The Finance Act 2020 contains some of the most radical measures put forward by any government in the country’s recent history, to tackle poverty and stimulate economic growth.
These measures include the reduction of company taxation to help boost investment and job creation; reduction of goods and services tax on all aviation charges which will reduce the cost of flying to the country; reduction of import duty on goods and products that are used in manufacturing. This will help grow the local manufacturing sector and create jobs.
The 2020 Budget dubbed by the government as its “Bread and butter budget”, will enable the government to recruit thousands of nurses, police officers and teachers.
Although this will reduce youth unemployment which currently stands at over 2 million, critics say that by expanding public sector wages bill while at the same time reducing taxation – and with declining export revenue, could spell disaster for the government’s finance and its increasing reliance on borrowing.
Overall, the Budget statement was well received by all sides of the House, including the main opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC), whose leader in parliament – Chernor R.M Bah (Photo), commended the government for its tax reduction measures to help relieve pressure on the economy and boost growth.
Chernor R.M Bah said also that MPs are under obligation to make sure that the Minister of Finance succeeds for the good of the nation, while expressing hope for an economic recovery.
The Leader of Government Business -Sidie M. Tunis MP, said that the Minister of Finance deserves accolades for ensuring that the Budget is thoroughly put together.
“We have a very, very good Finance Act for 2020 and with this the Bread and Butter Budget will succeed,” Tunis joyfully said, as he assured Members of Parliament that their concerns will be addressed.
Chairman of the Finance Committee – Francis Amara Kaisamba MP, spoke about the importance of the Bill, stating that a lot of amendments have been made by the Committee in order to ensure that the Budget is acceptable to all and becomes law.
“75% of the expenditure in any budget is funded by the Government, while the balance is supported by donors” he stated, as he appealed to colleague MPs to look at the Bill from the nation’s perspective, rather than a narrow political party interest.
Daniel Koroma MP of the opposition APC, pressed on the Finance Minister to give due consideration to taxpayers in the country, whilst encouraging the Minister to introduce better and newer ways to generate funds for Government to help pay for its development programmes.
Paramount Chief Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III of Tonkolili District, appealed for the reduction of taxes on some companies, in order to continue their promotional services in their areas of operations.
“If you tax the poor people to provide money for the rich, you will have economic growth without economic development” he warned the Finance Minister.
The Paramount Chief also asked the Minister to focus on measures that could stimulate job creation, especially the establishment of new industries and viable agricultural interventions to reduce food imports.
Paramount Chief Kontanday M’briwa of Kono District, called on the Finance Minister to consider equal distribution of national resources at the chiefdom level, for actual development to take place in rural communities across the country.
Abdul Kargbo MP of the APC, criticized the Ministry of Finance for establishing procurement directorate at Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He said that this is improper and counter-productive to the operations of the National Public Procurement Authority.
He said that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies should have a procurement unit – not a directorate, in order to save cost and reduce corruption.
Ibrahim Tawa Conteh MP of the SLPP, called on the Minister of Finance not to remove the government’s supervisory function of the Rokel and Sierra Leone Commercial Banks, from the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) to the Ministry of Finance.
He also asked the Minister to provide more support to local companies in order to create more jobs, and reduce imports.
The Finance Bill 2020 was passed by MPs and has now become law.