By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Honourable Aminata Sesay of the All People’s Congress Party (APC) representing Port Loko District has challenged the notion of reintroducing taxes in the 2024 budget as a means to bolster the ‘Feed Salone Project.’ Her proposal aims to encourage food sufficiency without imposing additional burdens on citizens through taxes, emphasizing the importance of government support for agricultural initiatives.
Sesay urged President Bio and the Sierra Leonean government to reconsider the 2024 budget and devise alternative strategies to endorse the ‘Feed Salone Project’ without imposing new taxes, particularly on rice imports. She labeled the budget as inadequate to support the food security project, calling it a lackluster allocation.
“This budget doesn’t align with the objectives of the Feed Salone Project; it’s an inadequate proposal,” Hon. Sesay asserted.
Advocating for a supportive approach to agriculture, Sesay highlighted the significance of timely distribution of fertilizers to farmers countrywide as a pivotal step.
“To bolster agriculture, promoting farming through incentives and ensuring timely fertilizer provision to our farmers is crucial,” she emphasized.
Sesay urged the government to maintain the current zero percent tax on rice imports and consider incentives to incentivize widespread farming adoption, aiming to transform farming from merely a job to a viable career choice for many.
“Fostering food sufficiency in Sierra Leone necessitates reliance on ourselves rather than external sources. By retaining the zero percent tax and introducing farming incentives, we can encourage more individuals to engage in farming,” she advised.
Commenting on fertilizer price increases, Sesay expressed concern over the rising costs of agricultural inputs, citing the fuel price hike as a factor that has burdened farmers with higher costs for plowing their lands. She advocated for the removal of proposed taxes in the 2024 budget to alleviate farmers’ challenges and aid the success of the Feed Salone initiative.
“Empower our farmers with the necessary tools; they are not seeking handouts. The proposed taxes seem to exacerbate hunger rather than address it,” the honorable MP emphasized.
Sesay cautioned against reintroducing a five percent increase on rice importation, highlighting its potential adverse impact on impoverished farmers and urging policies that support farming and self-sufficiency.
“I want our people to farm and consume their locally produced organic rice. Reintroducing these taxes will only exacerbate the hardship on the people,” she articulated. SEG/13/12/2023