CHRDI::2024 Finance Act will increase hardship on families

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Abdul Fatoma says government should at alternative sources of revenue

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Executive Director of Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), Abdul Fatoma, has charged that the 2024 Finance Act will invite more hardship on families across the country.

He said taxation on rice importation will attract drastic increment on the prices of rice in the country and families, who earn less than %40 as salary, will suffer more.

The 2024 Finance  Act, which many have described as a ‘killer’ Act, was last week passed in Parliament, with a provision for 5% tax on imported rice, coupled with the increment of  taxes on building materials, including cement and iron rod.  

Fatoma was speaking at his Wilkinson Road office in Freetown during an exclusive interview with Concord Times.

He noted that government needed to look at alternative sources to ease the suffering on the masses instead of introducing measures that would exacerbate the suffering. 

”For me, the government needs to redirect the local revenue mobilization to another way that the citizens will not feel the hardship. It is good for us to have IMF assistance or grant, but the IMF loan or grant should not squeeze the people,” he said

He noted that rice being the staple food and for many years now not been taxable, yet still importers continue to increase the price based on inflation rate, which has been a burden on households.

He said some families could even go to a point of cutting down the number of cups of rice they cook per day,  and that with the introduction of tax on imported rice, families would be wondering as to what will be their fate in the next coming days in terms of food.

He said young people who want to build their own homes would be affected greatly due to the increment of taxes on cement and iron rod.

He noted that the 2024 Finance Act is not good for a poorer country like Sierra Leone where the normal salary is below 50 United States Dollars.

“We want to see the alternative government will create to ensure that things are better for the people. People are now in a situation that they are thinking about their next direction as a country and they should have an alternative,” he said.

He charged that they were yet to see the harvest from the Feed Salone initiative for which rice has been taxed, and that there is not even a 30% of local rice in the market, despite the huge amount of money governments has spent on agriculture for the past five years.

He highlighted that government had spent millions of United States Dollars on the Torma Bum rice project, but that the country cannot even afford 20% of the staple food in the market.

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