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Sorghum Farmers Frown at Finance Act 2017, Call for It Not To Be Enacted

Sorghum Farmers Frown at Finance Act 2017, Call for It Not To Be Enacted

The Chairman of the Sierra Leone Sorghum Farmers Association, Mr. Dennis Jusu has called on His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the government and Members of Parliament to retain the Finance Act 2016. He made this call at a conference held at the Stadium Hostel on Thursday May 4th 2018 on behalf of his countrywide membership.

Explaining why Finance Acts are passed by Parliament into law, he said, this is done to generate revenue for the government, empower its citizenry and create the enabling environment for its citizenry to thrive easily.

Alongside the Finance Act 2016 is the Local Content Policy was also enacted in 2014 aimed at empowering indigenous businesses to thrive and take over the market; as well as create job opportunities and improve the lives of the average Sierra Leonean.

However, this intention to empower local businesses and the citizenry, Mr. Jusu said, is now faced with a serious challenge as a result of the reviewed 2017 Finance Act.

He said as farmers, they are appealing to President Koroma not to give his assent to the Bill on the grounds that it will reverse the gains already made by the Agenda for Prosperity.

The Sorghum Farmers Chairman furthered that, with the passage of the Local Content Policy, the country saw a dramatic change in terms of increased employment opportunities, empowering local farmers who meaningfully contributing to revenue mobilization through payment of taxes..

He also stressed the need to encourage local industries like the Sierra Leone Brewery to thrive by retaining the 2016 Finance Act which sought to encourage manufacturers to use local materials in order to conserve scarce foreign exchange.

Dennis Jusu went on to argued that if the 2017 Finance is enacted it will appears as if we are still subjected to  the yoke of foreign economic exploitation in which profits generated by big business conglomerates are taken overseas with the country not benefitting.

He recalled that, from September 2016 to date, sorghum farmers have experienced a tremendous positive change in their lives adding that this year alone their sales volume is about Le2, 400,120,000 while their membership because of increased cultivation opportunities has increased from 10, 000 to 21, 600 farmers across the country.

The SLBL that is supporting them has supplied groundnut and sorghum inputs of 155, 000 tons across the country and that, they have also started mechanized sorghum farming in the Tonkolili district with the cultivation of a 200 hectares seed multiplication farms. By 2018, they have a target of supplying Brewery with 3, 000 metric tonnes of sorghum; development he said would be achievable through the platform created by the 2016 finance act.

He said, they are appealing to President Koroma and Members of Parliament to seriously reflect on the disastrous effects that the 2017 Finance Act will have on local producers, the sorghum farmers inclusive.

On behalf of the media, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh, told the meeting that the media will support the farmers to ensure that they survive and thrive.

Thomas Babadie speaking on behalf of Civil Society expressed similar sentiments and praised President Koroma for giving farmers the opportunity to grow but noted that if this opportunity is taken away, farmers will revert to their former suffering.

By Ranger

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