By KABS KANU :
NEW YORK : The Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, yesterday told the Government International Media Network ( GIMN ) in New York that the Government had to take action and remove the subsidy on fuel as one of the measures to generate local revenue to arrest the economic slowdown in Sierra Leone, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ).
The Ambassador said that Kuwait had also just done the same–Remove the subsidy on fuel, though a very rich country . He asked that if Kuwait , which is a major oil-producing country and has a high per capita income and huge foreign reserves , could remove subsidy on fuel, what was expected of a consumer non -producing country like Sierra Leone. The UN Envoy remarked that the removal of fuel subsidy was one of the economic realities of our times as it has happened in many other countries
AMBASSADOR ADIKALIE FODAY SUMAH
Ambassador Sumah said that the subsidy on fuel was not benefiting the poor because the same fuel was being smuggled into neighboring countries , since, by virtue of the subsidy, Sierra Leone had the cheapest price for fuel among her Mano River Union ( MRU ) sister states.
The Ambassador pointed out that to demonstrate how much smuggling and profiteering was going on with Sierra Leone’s subsidized fuel, there was a disproportionally higher number of gas stations between Gberay Junction and Pamelap on the Guinea border. “How many vehicles are plying that route in comparison to the other routes with far heavier traffic, to warrant such a huge number of petrol stations ? ” the Ambassador asked. ” if it is not on purpose, what is it ? It has to be because some unscrupulous dealers were involved in massive smuggling and profiteering .”
Ambassador Sumah said that now that the Government has eliminated the subsidy on fuel, there will be less smuggling of the commodity now . With the increase in excise duty and more revenue-based taxes, the Government would now have enough to give to the people.
He described Government as an enabling platform for the private and public sectors to thrive. Government was providing mass employment in the mining, transportation and tourism sectors before the twin shocks of the Ebola outbreak and the drop in the price of Sierra Leone’s iron ore in the international commodity market. Through the Local Content Policy, Sierra Leoneans were being employed as laborers and high level officials .They were leasing vehicles from ordinary people.
Ambassador Sumah admonished those seeking power AND members of Parliament and public officials to go around and educate the ordinary people about why Sierra Leone is where she is today on the economic front. He enjoined them to go to the districts, chiefdoms , villages and towns and hold meetings to let the people know why the government had to eliminate subsidy on fuel. They should hold town hall meetings and explain government’s position to the people. He advised them to organize themselves and stage Meet-The-People tours to complement the work of President Ernest Koroma and Information Minister, Mohamed Bangura.”We are in governance. We must explain the economic realities the people . They must take the message from the central government to the people “, he stressed .
Ambassador Sumah is confident that, under the wise leadership of President Koroma , the economy will recover and start growing again.