Dennis Jusu, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Sorghum Farmers Association, at a conference held at the Stadium Hostel on Thursday May 4th 2018 has, on behalf of his countrywide membership, called on His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the government and Members of Parliament to expunge a certain clause in the Finance Act 2017 which according to him, specifically will be inimical to their activities.
Explaining why the Finance Acts are passed by Parliament into law, he said they are to generate revenue for the government, empower its citizenry and create the enabling environment for its citizenry to thrive easily.
Alongside the Finance Act 2016 is the Local Content Policy which was enacted in 2014 aimed at empowering indigenous businesses to thrive and take over the market; as well create job opportunities and improve the lives of the average Sierra Leoneans.
However, this intention to empower local businesses and the citizenry, Mr. Jusu said, is now faced with a serious challenge as a result of the passage of the 2017 Finance Act.
As farmers, he said, they are appealing to President Koroma to look at the way the Act will affect the Local Content Policy arguing that it will reverse the gains already made by the Agenda for Prosperity.
Mr. Jusu furthered that with the passage of the Local Content Policy, we saw a dramatic change in terms of increased employment opportunities, empowering local farmers and meaningfully contributing towards revenue mobilization through payment of taxes, etc. He stressed that it is very significant to encourage local industries like the Sierra Leone Brewery to thrive by removing a particular clause in the 2017 Finance Act in order to encourage manufacturers to use local materials to conserve scarce foreign exchange.
Otherwise, he argued, we will still be under the yoke of foreign economic exploitation in which profits generated by big business conglomerates are taken overseas with no benefit to the country.
To buttress his point, Mr. Jusu said that from September 2016 to date, sorghum farmers have experienced a tremendous positive change in their lives. This year alone, he said, their sales volume is about Le2, 400,120,000. Their membership, because of increased cultivation opportunities, has increased from 10, 000 to 21, 600 farmers across the country.
Brewery which supports them, he said, has supplied groundnut and sorghum inputs of 155, 000 tons across the country and that they have started mechanized sorghum farming in the Tonkolili district with cultivation of a 200 hectares seed multiplication farm.
By 2018, they have a target of supplying Brewery with 3, 000 metric tons of sorghum.
All these developments, he said, would be achievable through the platform created by the 2016 Finance Act.
It is on this note that Mr. Jusu, on behalf of the Sorghum farmers, is appealing to President Koroma and Members of Parliament to seriously reflect on the disastrous effects that a particular clause in the 2017 Finance Act will have on local producers, the sorghum farmers inclusive.
On behalf of the media, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh, told the meeting that the media will support the farmers to ensure that they survive and thrive. He underscored that there is all need for Government to support the sorghum farmers as that will help improve their livelihoods and immensely contribute to boosting the economy. “No country can develop through importation but rather by exportation,” he noted adding that the country is faced with devaluation of its currency because of high importation and that supporting the 2016 Finance Act was the right decision aimed at beefing the country’s economy.
Thomas Babadie speaking on behalf of Civil Society expressed similar sentiments. He praised President Koroma for giving farmers the opportunity; adding that if this opportunity is taken away, farmers will revert to their former suffering.
Head of Consumer Protection Agency, Kabia, maintained that the Section of the Act will affect consumers greatly especially those who like to drink Brewery products. “Definitely there will be scarcity and prices will shoot up,” he stated also calling on the Government and Parliamentarians to consider taking affirmative action to prevent undue negative effects on consumers.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.