By Hassan G. Koroma from Lunsar
Paramount Chief of Marampa chiefdom, Bai Koblo Queen II and his subjects on 25 March welcomed the third Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reconciliation report and likened the initiative as a biblical ‘Moses’ sent to save them from the grips of selfish and corrupt individuals and companies engaged in extracting minerals from their land.
During a public meeting at Lunsar Town Hall, P.C. Bai Koblo Queen said the initiative is significant to his people because their chiefdom is one the vibrant mining communities in the country, and that it would be good for them to be informed about how much mining companies, such as London Mining which operates in the chiefdom, are paying to the Government of Sierra Leone.
P.C. Queen said a lot of questions, hitherto unanswered, have been answered by the SLEITI third reconciliation report and he lauded the process for promoting transparency and accountability in the mining sector in the country.
P.C. Queen, speaking during a meeting in his chiefdom, part of a nationwide sensitisation on and dissemination of the 2011 reconciliation report, stressed the importance of the EITI, not least to enhance transparency and accountability among mining companies operating in Sierra Leone.
He commended the late former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah for signing the initiative, praised the current president for his leadership in ensuring that the country benefits from its vast mineral resources.
Acting National SLEITI Coordinator, Miner Harris, expressed happiness that the report was being presented to the people of Marampa. She further revealed that the initiative was established under the leadership of late former president because he knew that the grassroots were not benefiting enough from their natural resources, something he wanted to remedy.
she said the EITI was initiated in 2006 to promote better economic governance over oil, gas and mineral resources in mineral rich countries, and seeks to reduce the risk of diversion or misappropriation of funds generated from the a country’s extractive industries and that it works through joint cooperation of governments, private sector, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organisations.
In a power point presentation of the second and third reconciliation reports, Dr Mustapha Thomas, lecturer at the Geology Department at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, said the significance of the mining sector to Sierra Leone cannot be understated as the sector accounts for over 90% of export revenues, as well as being the second largest employer.
The university don further said that mining was formally subjected to 37.5% income tax, higher than the then-prevailing 35%tax on other companies, but this was reduced to 30% in the most recent amendment to the Income Tax Act, thus bringing it in line with tax applied to other sectors.
Assistant District Officer of Port Loko, who chaired the meeting, Abu Kamara, said since mining started in Sierra Leone in 1930, citizens have benefitted less from the proceeds, compared to international mining companies and the government.