A Nigerian businessman dealing in pure water sachets, Adebayor Adenima has accused the Freetown City Council tax collectors of overcharging taxes.
The Nigerian businessman who prefers not to identify his business center disclosed to Awoko how he was shocked when he was visited by city council tax collectors to pay two hundred and fifty thousand leones as against the one hundred and fifty thousand leones he was told to pay at the Freetown city council office.
He claimed that when he tried to question the fee charged, he was told to either pay or get his shop closed. Adebayor remarked that the action was not encouraging to foreign business people and also for the employment of Sierra Leoneans as the rate charged on them might cause them to reduce the strength of their staff. “Most of us in this pure water business are foreigners and we are about fifty in number and if we decide to sack at least two staff that will be about 100 Sierra Leonean youths losing their jobs and will that also not create a problem in the unemployment climate in the country” he asked?
He complained that he saw no reason why he should be classified as class B industry but rather should be placed under the small scale industry not as the big industry who employs more people and makes millions a day and are asked to pay Le 500,000 unlike them who employs less people and sells less than Le500,000 a day and are asked to pay Le 250,000.
Mr Arthur W. Lewis, head of licenses Freetown City Council re-acted to the allegations that city council collects taxes from three categories and that shops were assessed by how they were and by their merchandise.
Reacting to the allegations made by the Nigerian businessman he said “ We are in the office and do not see the shop the businessman is talking about and probably the explanation he might have given about his shop that he has a small shop and employs two people. When we look at our tariff with the kind of description we charge him on that category which is hundred and fifty thousand leones. But when the task force goes out to collect taxes they will be able to determine whether the information earlier given was correct, if not they will charge accordingly and perhaps that might be the case.”
Mr Lewis said they have a standard price displayed publicly and also carried along with the city council task force license collectors.
The city council revised licenses which was approved in January, 2005 at the seventh meeting of council on January 31, 2005, categorises business places as A,B, and C where hotels are to pay Le 500,000, Le 350,000, Le 250,000 and factories/industrial outlets pay Le 500,000, Le 250,000 and Le 125,000.