• Loading

Sierra Leonean citizens slam impact of new tax on development

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Sierra Leone have demanded an end to harmful tax policies and practices which they believe will actively obstruct efforts to eradicate poverty.

Following a three-day seminar CSOs yesterday voiced strong concerns about the detrimental impact of the country’s new goods and services tax (GST) on the economic development of the poor.

In a statement called ‘The Freetown Declaration on Tax and Development’, CSO leaders highlighted the importance of domestic tax revenues as the most sustainable source of development finance, and called upon the Sierra Leonean government to commit immediately to allocating a proportion of GST revenues for specific development goals.

Also addressed were other factors detrimental to Sierra Leone’s economic development, including capital flight, tax evasion and tax competition.

The CSOs said national implementation of the GST has been hurried, with Kadi Jumu of Christian Aid Sierra Leone urging the government to mitigate negative impacts of the tax on the poor, as well as demanding an independent review of its impact on different socio-economic sectors and geographical regions. 

'We call on the government to commit to publish revenue collected from GST and how revenues are used,' said Jumu.

Patrick Zombo, coordinator of the Budget Advocacy Network, urged CSOs in Sierra Leone jointly to support campaigns aimed at corporate transparency, and progressive tax policies, and the opposing of tax concessions for multinational corporations.

Tax Justice Network for Africa Coordinator, Mr Alvin Mosioma, revealed that the African continent as a whole had lost up to $607bn over the last three decades due to capital flight.

Mosioma revealed that for every US dollar in external loans to Africa over the last four decades, 60 cents went straight out again through illicit capital flight. He argued that tax evasion, tax avoidance, and other common forms of corruption are estimated to have reduced tax revenues in some African nations by as much as 50 per cent, therefore dramatically reducing the funds available for public spending.

Regarding the controversial management of mineral extraction and mining, participants called on government to develop a more transparent and participatory contract review process, as well as to investigate the costs and benefits of existing and new mining concessions before any new contracts are granted.

Cecilia Mattia, coordinator of the National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives, also urged the government to make the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 compliant with international standards, while Abu Brima of the Network Movement for Justice and Development called for CSOs in Sierra Leone to support fully the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

- ENDS -

For further press information contact Kadi Jumu, policy and programmes manager at Christian Aid Sierra Leone on +232(22)234625, +232(0)33361164 (M) +232(0) 76605579, or kjumu@christian-aid.org

Alternatively contact Amadu Bah on +232 (0) 33655910 or abah@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty.  Our new drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to make that vision a reality.  Details at www.christianaid.org.uk

3. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_