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Monday, July 4, 2022

Business stakeholders call on President Bio to increase GST threshold to Le350M

By Alfred Koroma

Representatives of the business community have in a stakeholders meeting with President Bio called on him to increase the Goods and Service Tax (GST) from the Le100 million threshold to Le350 million.

The meeting which was held at State House was a move by the government to mend the growing animosity between the government and the business community. For couple of weeks now there has been crisis between the government and the business community fuelled by high inflation, taxation and undesirable hardship facing citizens in the country. In recent times, the country has been hit with series of strike actions by members of the business community in protest of the current economic situation.

Reading out their scripted speeches during the Presidential interface, representatives of the business stakeholders highlighted series of challenges facing the business community and called for government intervention to ameliorate the challenges. High inflation, GST threshold, instability of the foreign exchange currency, high cost of shipping and charges for importers and exporters, convoluted process of clearing containers from the country’s port were among the challenges business stakeholders emphasized.

The stakeholders consistently called for increase in the threshold of the DST from the present Le100 million to Le350.

Several government officials including the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy who has been under increasing pressure to scale down the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities in the country, and representatives from various businesses such as the petroleum sector, Drivers and General Transport Workers Union, Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture; Trades Council Importers and Manufacturers Association and others were present at the interface.  

The President, in his carefully unscripted response did not specifically state government response to the request and challenges highlighted by the business people, but noted there will be continued dialogue on the issues.

The President had interface with the business stakeholders for the first time following the strike action of shop owners in protest of the GST threshold and the ECR machines installed in their shops coupled with scarcity of petroleum product further fuelling crisis in the transport sector. 

The President described his interactive dialogue with the business people as essential as it creates a platform for him to hear directly from them and to see how best government and the business community can make things look lighter on citizens.

 The President said government does not take action to put burden on business people, elaborating that the current economic situation is not anybody’s making nor a cause of any poor economic management.

The world is going through unusual time, the he said, calling on business stakeholders who understand the crisis in the global business sector to help educate the people on how business is currently running rather than politicizing the crisis.

“If it is good, is good for us all. If it is bad, is bad for us all,” the President added.       

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