President Bio urged to address economic challenges, toll gate fee increase

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By Alhaji Haruna Sani

In an open letter addressed to President Julius Maada Bio, the Renaissance Movement expressed deep concern about pressing economic and welfare issues affecting the citizens of Sierra Leone.

The letter highlighted the critical need for addressing the high cost of living, exacerbated by factors such as a high inflation rate (52.9%), limited private sector growth, high unemployment, and low wages.

The Renaissance Movement, acknowledging the importance of the peace and security in the country, emphasised the adverse impact of rising fuel costs since August 1, 2023.

“The spike from NLE 21.50 to NLE 30 triggered a chain reaction, leading to increased prices of necessities like food, making it challenging for families to meet their ends.”

The movement expressed deep concern about the widespread effects on the cost of living, access to essential goods, and transportation for millions across the nation.

The letter drew attention to the stagnant state of the minimum wage at NLE 800, stating that some brands of a 50kg bag of rice have surpassed the minimum wage threshold, selling for as much as NLE 1200.

Additionally, the movement mentioned an official release from the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) regarding the planned increment in toll gate fees.

The Renaissance Movement articulated the potential dire consequences of increasing toll gate fees, providing examples such as significant increases in charcoal, vegetables, and palm oil sourced from the provinces.

They highlighted the impact on house rent, construction projects, and the additional burden on fuel tankers, which would further raise the prices of goods in the market.

The letter included a table illustrating the percentage changes resulting from the proposed toll gate fee increases, emphasizing the intensification of hardship for citizens already grappling with economic challenges.

The Renaissance Movement urged President Bio to take immediate action by reviewing the agreement with the toll operator and revise toll gate fees before the proposed start date of March 1, 2024.

The Movement also recommended that President Bio implement measures to stabilize the cost of living, particularly considering exchange rate fluctuations and reconsider the removal of subsidies on fuel and lubricants to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices on citizens.

Renaissance urges President Bio to explore avenues for increasing the minimum wage to align with the rising costs of essential goods and services.

In closing, the movement expressed appreciation for the resilience of citizens and called upon all stakeholders to unite in alleviating the burdens faced by the people and steering the nation toward prosperity with patriotism and optimism for a better Sierra Leone.

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