Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a startling revelation, the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) has exposed that Kailahun District Council (KDC) fell significantly short of its 2022 revenue target. The BAN report reveals that out of the approved revenue target of Le2.5 billion (Le 2,478,979) for 2022, only Le793 million (Le 793,615) was collected, representing a staggering 68% shortfall.
The report highlights that while the revenue from evacuation fees exceeded expectations in 2022, with property rates emerging as the highest revenue stream, the council has the potential to enhance its revenue collection by nearly 300% in 2023 and subsequent years, based on the assumptions for 2022.
Several factors contributed to the dismal revenue collection performance. The period was marked by non-tax enforcement due to elections, and a lack of clarity among citizens regarding the distinction between Council and Chiefdom dues. Moreover, limited sensitization and tax education efforts were carried out during the 2022 financial year.
The report also underscored the insufficient involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs) and community leaders in tax education and revenue generation. Some citizens expressed reluctance to pay local taxes, citing the Council’s perceived lack of transparency and accountability in collecting, recording, and reporting its own source revenue.
A detailed analysis of revenue sources reveals that fees from evacuation accounted for 37% of the revenue, primarily stemming from charges on the transportation of agricultural products like cocoa, timber, and palm oil. Miscellaneous and other charges constituted approximately 35% of revenue, encompassing levies related to the use of council property, such as the council’s hall, mini stadium, and lorry park. Business licenses, business registration, and property tax contributed 11%, 11%, and 6%, respectively.
Despite Council guidelines stipulating that a minimum of 35% of own source revenue should be allocated to service delivery, the BAN report exposed that all own source revenue expenditure for 2022 was funnelled into administrative expenses.
Additionally, the report noted that transactions were not consistently made public through the Council’s Notice Board. The Valuation Unit, tasked with revenue collection for the council, was reported to be severely understaffed, impeding its ability to function effectively throughout the district.
At the end BAN called upon the Council to embrace transparency and accountability in its dealings with the people of Kailahun. The report emphasizes that this approach would not only bolster the council’s own-source revenue but also instil a sense of ownership among citizens for locally-driven projects, enabling active monitoring and accountability for service delivery.
These findings emerged as part of the PACE Project, implemented by BAN with support from Christian Aid Sierra Leone. The project aims to promote citizens’ rights and facilitate the realization of those rights. ZIJ/9/10/2023