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As P’ment vetoes KCC budget…

New tax policy for Kenema

January 8, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi from Kenema

The Mayor of Kenema city has announced a new revenue mobilization strategy for the year 2015 after Parliament last year refused to endorse budget presented by the Kenema City Council (KCC).

Mayor Joseph S. Keifala, in his New Year’s message to residents of Kenema, said 2014 was a turbulent year for the eastern provincial city but remained optimistic that they are resilient to face most of the challenges by ensuring the council strengthens its revenue base.

He urged business entities and public-private institutions in the city to comply with the tax regulations.

“As we now enter the year 2015, let us all be resilient and stand out to face the challenges that lie ahead. I am making a clarion call on whosoever occupies or has council property or asset to bring them forward for the general good of the people,” beseeched the mayor.

“Shops, kiosks, and other infrastructures erected on public lands including railways should be under the direct control and supervision of the council. Let me duly inform my tax payers that the council will come out with a new matrix for tax payment. Instead of annual payment for licenses for shops, kiosks and other workshops including cinemas and sport centers, the council now institutes a daily payment of dues for the year 2015, as those at Kingsway Corner, Gbongbotor markets have been paying. The prices to be paid will be communicated to the various sectors soonest.”

He added: “For too long those daily due payers have been rouged. Business entities that have not obtained their operational permit from the council but have gone ahead to start their operations are requested to obtain their permit immediately because it is with these monies that the council can embark on development projects within the city.”

Mayor Keifala was optimistic that despite the Ebola outbreak and dire financial difficulties, his two-year tenure has recorded a lot of success stories. He revealed that they have purchased a giant clock for the Kenema Clock Tower, which he said would be installed very soon, adding that work on the Hangha, Blama and Dama roads have also been completed.

“These contractors have been identified and awaiting only presidential approval. These roads will soon be transformed into tarmac roads. My administration has already accorded the people of Kondebotehun community access roads – a project that costs thousands of dollars,” he said. “My administration has already completed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, for an extension of the university branch to Kenema.”

The new tax initiative comes after lawmakers withheld the 2015 budget of the council, citing irregularities. But Mayor Keifala had claimed that the budget was vetoed because some lawmakers had asked for Le20 million before they could endorse the KCC budget, which he refused.

He was subsequently summoned to Parliament, where he repeated the allegation.

The matter is now with the country’s anti-graft body – the Anti-Corruption Commission – which is expected to investigate the allegations and make known their findings.

Meanwhile, Parliament has given no indication yet as to whether Kenema, a city amongst the worst affected by the Ebola outbreak, will receive money from the Consolidated Fund in 2015 to embark on post-Ebola recovery.

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