Parliament yesterday passed The Finance Act 2008 for the second time which now includes a clause placing zero percent duty on computers.
The Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha Kanu told parliament that government was aware and took considerations of the digital world to make sure that computer literacy is one of government’s priorities. “In this digital age one is not considered to be… if not literate in computer even if you have your PhD. If you cannot use the word processing programme and type on a computer you will find it very difficult. The information age is bringing the world closer and computers are becoming a necessity and with a computer, you can access almost all the major libraries in the world by doing anything on line” he stated.
He said that the finance ministry removed the duty on computers to make it accessible to everybody in the country even in the most remote areas.
Hon Dr Bernadette Lahai of the SLPP explained her experiences and the need to be computer literate that “As a student at the time I finished my PhD in the UK and to save me from my studies and research, I had to use the computer and when I was returning to contribute to national development I thought I was going to have the privilege of a duty free waiver for my computers. In other countries every student from nursery to primary school can boast of a computer why not us in Sierra Leone”
Hon Phillip Tondoneh also of SLPP explained the need of computers but queried that even though the 0% duty on computers were necessary he questioned the arrangements put in place by government for that.
“Are we giving a gate way for private people that the executive will be having their kick backs and what are the arrangements in place for that or a system put in place by government for computers to be in the classes of primary schools or what is the rationale for that. For me economically it is ridiculous though everybody wants to be computer literate and government should give us an agenda” he said.