The Chair and Leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party, Dennis Bright, has come out with “guns ablazing”, in their monthly press briefing, hammering home the numerous reasons for the current state of economic hardship. He said the common man and woman is experiencing an economic emergency and as the only leading and credible opposition party now in the country, they have decided to take the lead in fighting for the welfare of all Sierra Leoneans. Bright said they conducted an economic survey on the hardships and made recommendations for governments’ consideration. He said that they expected key economic operators like importers, retailers, trade unions, market associations, bankers and tax collectors to have been called to a round table meeting. “Rather than that, government embarked on its usual “damage control” stunts by sending its “strategic communicators” to the media to tell the public about its achievements,” Bright said. The NGC Party leader was speaking on Thursday, 12 December 2019 at their Party Headquarters on Naimbana Street in Freetown. He went on to say that the Minister of Finance on 8 November 2019 delivered the budget speech to Parliament and in paragraph 22 alluded to the fact that the economic hardship in the country tagged “di gron dri” is a direct consequence of “high levels of unemployment especially among our youths”.
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He said in November, they did an economic investigation to get information from small and mid-level businesses to know their current situation. “It came out clearly from our investigation that business in Sierra Leone today is bad…” He said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) report that in the first three quarters of 2019, Le278 billion was collected in revenue. This was more than the amount they targeted. The National Revenue Authority (NRA) has been reporting that it has been exceeding its target. “Having paid all taxes and greased all the palms the traders and businessman has no other alternative than to pass all these costs onto the consumer/buyer. This leads to relatively high prices of goods,” he said. The NGC Party leader further explained the other reasons for the current economic hardship such as: the fall in the value of the Leones, increase in retail prices of basic essential commodities, erratic power and water supply, high cost of processing and preserving food as well as transportation, low purchasing power, unavailability of access to start ups, high rent, bribery and corruption and lack of big businesses. “Meanwhile, for the unemployed youths, market women, okada riders, kekeh, poda poda and taxi drivers, junior office workers, life is getting harder and harder. We therefore repeat our call for government to convene working group meetings on the current hardship that would restore hope and reassure the public,” he said. “The people of this country deserve better than what they are having now” Bright concluded.
By David Thoronka
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