Importers and government officials from the finance ministry and the National Revenue Authority (NRA) are today expected to sign a 90 day Memorandum of Understanding as an interim measure to address the reasons for the dramatic protest led by importers yesterday which led to the closure of many shops in the Central Business District.
This was revealed after an emergency meeting yesterday evening involving Finance Ministry and NRA officials on the one hand and executive members of the Sierra Leone Importers Association.
According to the President of the Importers Association Tanu Jalloh, it was agreed in the meeting with the deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Koroma and the Commissioner General NRA Alieu Sesay that they institute an emergency intervention that is expected to last for 90 days.
Shops were closed in the city centre yesterday as importers launched a dramatic protest over the high customs duty paid to the National Revenue Authority.
Mean while the Ministry of Finance and the National Revenue Authority summoned an immediate emergency meeting with the Sierra Leone Importers Association to address the situation with an emergency intervention that is expected to last for (90) ninety days.
“we are going to open shops tomorrow (today) and we will wait on the government to respond to our demands” Tanu Jalloh told journalists after the meeting.
The importers were demanding that Government reduce the amount of custom duty levied on importation at the Ports, to be adjusted with the custom duty in neighbouring Guinea and Liberia to enable them the importers to make profit.
He also spoke about some of the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles at the port that need to be brushed off, citing the payment of over (Le45m) Fort five Million Leones to release a container at the port, asking it to be reduced to Le25m twenty five million Leones and that the valuation for goods to be re-examined.
After the meeting top Government officials deliberately refused to talk to the Press despite persistent efforts at the Finance Building while angry importers besieged the entire building waiting for results.
The meeting ended peacefully as importers retired to their headquarter, where they were addressed by the President of Importers Association. It is only hoped that the Government will respond decisively on tax reduction at the port.
By Saidu Bah