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Magbass Sugar pays Le247.5million surface rent

March 29, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Prof. Monty Patrick Jones, on behalf of Magbass Sugar Cane Company, Wednesday, 23 March, paid the sum of Le247.5million surface rent to landowners in Magburaka, Tonkolili district.

Fifty percent of the surface rent went directly to landowners in seven villages – Magbass, Mamunth, Rochen, Maforba, Makapr, Rothongbai and Mathinka – for a total of 2, 280 hectares of farm land.

The Chiefdom Administration and District Council each received twenty percent of the money, valued at Le99 million; while the Government of Sierra Leone/Ministry of Agriculture got ten percent of the fees, representing Le49 million, plus withholding tax of ten percent, estimated at Le49 million, paid to the National Revenue Authority.

Paramount Chief Masakama Kanamanka III of Kholifa-Rowala Chiefdom, commended the government for enabling them benefit from surface rent payments, sixty percent of which is allocated to development activities, he said.

The traditional ruler also urged government to come to their aid to complete the construction of Magbass Secondary School, which is built by surface rent paid to the chiefdom.

The Paramount Chief revealed that Magbass is in a serious crisis that requires the intervention of government to enable its resurrection from almost dead status.

Chairman of Landowners Committee, Joseph B. Sankoh, disclosed that monies had been paid to the District Council for community development which they have not benefitted from. He pleaded with the minister to ensure that the company continues to operate in the community.

However, Deputy District Council Chairman, Foday A. Kanu, assured that they would utilise the money purely on development projects that directly benefit landowners, in accordance with their Development Plan.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Edward M. Kargbo, advised landowners to design an action plan for the attention of the ministry, which would be used as a guide to choosing development projects.

Minister of Agriculture, Prof. Monty Patrick Jones, said the vision of President Ernest Bai Koroma was to make farmers become rich, provide enough local produce for the people to become food self-sufficient and for the sector to serve as a hub, thus making Sierra Leone a middle income country by 2035. He revealed that government would be revisiting the current agreement it had signed with the company with a view to making amendments to it this year, and then taken to Parliament for approval.

Professor Jones further said that the government would ensure that the company declares profit, part of which should go to landowners, authorities and corporate social responsibility.

“We will review the terms and elements contained in the agreement,” he said, and added that they would put pressure on the company to ensure that they pay the 2015 fees almost immediately.

He concluded by calling on farmers to make good use of the monies they have received and move from subsistence to mechanised farming, which could earn them more money and benefit the nation. He also urged farmers to work individually and collectively to bring development to the nation.

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