‘New Direction’ government seems less supportive of and gloomy with a Freetown City Council (FCC) tax policy that requires the payment of property rates by residents in Freetown for effective administration of the municipality.
The property rate is a means to garner resources, and a great chunk of the funds would be utilised to actualise Mayor Aki Sawyer’s ‘Transform Freetown Project.’
Tax, anywhere in the world, is one of the most important sources of revenue for any political institution be it central or local government.
Mayor Sawyer is on record to have worked in close partnership with President Bio’s administration to ensure the transformation of Freetown to the annoyance of her party, the main opposition, All Peoples’ Congress.
Her ‘Transform Freetown Project’ of which payment of property rate is an integral component has been inclusive since relevant line ministries including the Ministries of Finance and Local Government as well as development partners have been brought on board.
The hardworking mayor has done an exclusive geo-mapping exercise that lasts for a year with approved international best practice methods. The mapping exercise was to determine the volume of property in the city resulting into the introduction of the new rate.
What prompts the ‘New Direction’ Government to halt the process in the name of protecting the interest of the people of Freetown?
Freetonians who overwhelmingly voted in Mayor Aki Sawyer are in tune with the new tax policy and highly supportive with the development taking place at FCC.
A sad irony is detected here as the ‘New Direction’ Government known for operating a highly driven tax economy reverses an FCC tax in the name of public interest protection. National Revenue Authority, the country’s revenue collection agency and the Sierra Leone Ports Authority, over the last two years, are busy amassing wealth through the collection of taxes.
Nobody cares about what impact such taxes have on businesses and consumers.
The ‘New Direction’ administration should not hope to score any political point in Freetown by shedding crocodile tears.
It is a shame for the Head of Strategic Communication Unit at the Ministry of Information, Abu Bakarr Jose Sesay to argue in support of poor timing for the introduction of the new tax rate by FCC.
Joe Sesay’s only argument is that the taxes are exorbitant for the residents of Freetown who struggles with the hardship of Covid-19.
Such argument would only succeed in exposing government to ridicule.
Residents of Freetown will not and cannot be hoodwinked into believing that government move to frustrate the mayor’s tax policy will endear the ‘New Direction’ government in the opposition strongholds.
FCC should seek redress in the Supreme Court on the matter since the council is a local government institution that enjoys the right to raise its own revenue independent of central government so that it can meet the expectations of the people.
The move to frustrate the Mayor is another major setback to the decentralisation process revenue collection.
The claim that central government has provided over Le 19 billion to the FCC is farcical.
Head of FCC Budget Committee who represents ward-144 in Brookfields community in Freetown has rubbished the claim noting that most, if not all, of these funds are utilised by the devolved units at FCC manned by appointees of central government.
‘Freetonians’ have thrown their weight strongly behind the activities of Mayor Aki Sawyer, and would not fall for any distraction.