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Monday, July 4, 2022

Hike in the prices of building materials… Parliament demands explanation from trade minister

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of Parliament yesterday demanded that the Minister of Trade and Industry  provides reasons behind the hike in the prices of building materials , especially cement and iron rod across the country, despite the reduction of taxes on the importation of those materials.

Opposition Member of Parliament of the All People’s Congress (APC), Hon. Mark Mahmoud Kalokoh, said certain percentage on the importation of on certain commodities were said to be reduced by Members of Parliament during the debate on the Finance Act of 2020, adding that such was yet to take effect in the market.

He said the percentage on the prices of iron rod and cement were reduced from 20% to 10%, but that the prices of the said commodities continue to increase.

 He urged the Speaker to summon the Minister of Trade to explain why the effect was yet to take place in the market.

But chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Hon. Veronica K. Sesay, said last year they were given the mandate to investigate the said issue and that they have met with concerned stakeholders.

She said there have been a little bit of drop in the prices but full details will be given later during the presentation of the report by next week Thursday.

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara said many a time mandates were given to committees on pertinent issues affecting citizens but in the end, time given for such reports to be laid on the table of Parliament for discussion were not adhered to.

He said there was need for the office of the Speaker of Parliament to have a consideration on those issues and act upon them.

On his part, Hon. Daniel Koroma noted that there was no need to politicize the issue of price increase, which is largely  a national issue that  should be dealt with nationally.

“The prices are as high in Freetown as in Koinadugu and Kenema. We don’t need to politicize it. In all the districts, cement is sold at a high cost. We need to look at it with a national eye,” he urged.

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Matthew Nyuma, said the concern raised by Hon. Kalokoh was a notice of motion that would be looked into with all the seriousness it deserves.

He said the 2020 Finance Act was in effect now and that the National Revenue Authority was in position to effect implementation of the said percentage.

“We have taken note of it. We have committees on trade, finance and transparency. They should take up their oversight responsibilities for them to be in the same page with NRA once the Minister is called upon to Parliament,” he said.

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