President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday at the State House conference room told a cross section of the Sierra Leone Traders’ Union (SLeTU) that he would look into the issues affecting them.
Addressing batteries of traders from different parts of the country, the President told them that, “I have made a commitment that I will run the country like a business concern…..because business creates jobs and boosts the country’s economy”.
He added that traders were an important group in every nation and that if their business grew the country would also grow, adding that issues like border business, customs and taxation affecting traders would be addressed.
President Koroma stressed that he would take tough a stance against corruption, and urged the traders to be law abiding and respect each.
The Head of State further urged them to pay their taxes, pointing out that the survival of any country depended on taxation. “Failing to pay taxes is a crime,” President Koroma stated and assured them that he would establish constant dialogue with the Minister of Trade.
Putting their case before the President, the union’s Public Relations Officer Ajina Mansaray said, “the formation of SLeTU came as a result of the then confrontation between the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and the traders in August 1998”.
The PRO disclosed that consequently, to work out a good working relationship between the SLP and the traders on the one hand and the traders and government on the other hand, former President Kabbah had called a meeting of all stakeholders which was called the “Joe Demby Commission of Enquiry”.
The mandate of the commission was to look into the fracas between the SLP and the traders.
Mr Mansaray lamented that the institutionalization of “Operation Free Flow”, which resulted in the destruction, plundering and seizure of traders’ wares, was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.