2024 Finance Act: Price increase on cooking gas may be distressing to citizens, environment  

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By Ishmael Dumbuya

The 2024 Finance Act has raised concerns among citizens due to the proposed increase in taxes on essential commodities such as rice, cooking gas, cement, and iron rods.

The increment in the price of cooking gas might encourage citizens to resort to the use of firewood and charcoal, which is a significant concern as more than half of the population struggle to use gas for cooking.

According to the Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey (SLIHS) report of 2018, only 5% to 7% of Sierra Leoneans use gas as their primary cooking fuel. The proposed Finance Act calls for an increment in the price of gas, which might lead to a further reduction in the number of people using gas for cooking.

The government aims to encourage the use of clean energy sources for cooking and discourage the use of wood and charcoal. The restoration of import on cooking gas was exempt with the expectation of a reduction in prices to consumers.

The increment in the price of cooking gas has greatly shocked a significant number of people that use it as a means of cooking. However, additional resources collected from the import duty on cooking gas will support the government’s tree planting and reforestation program.

It is true that cooking gas is economical, and its excellent heating capacity helps one cook food in less time, saving fuel costs. It is also supposed to provide Sierra Leoneans with a safe and portable alternate energy source, as well as help reduce deforestation, and its clean burning properties will reduce the pollution that results from burning traditional fuels such as wood and paraffin.

Amidst all this, if the government is really concerned about climate change and safe cooking methods, they should consider decreasing the price of gas rather than increasing it. This will encourage more usage of the product, which will eventually help reduce deforestation, and its clean burning properties will reduce the pollution that results from using wood.

Overreliance on firewood and charcoal for cooking in Sierra Leone has contributed to high rates of deforestation and resulted in substantial indoor pollution, which has negatively impacted the health of many individuals.

The proposed increment in the price of cooking gas might lead to a further reduction in the number of people using gas for cooking, which is a significant concern as more than half of the population struggle to use gas for cooking.

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