By Hassan Tejan Kamara
Sierra Leoneans need to understand the concept of foreign investments in Sierra Leone versus wealth transfer from Sierra Leone to other countries. Sierra Leone needs foreign investors to help grow our economy, pay taxes and create real job opportunities for our young men and women, including our college graduates. What we currently have in Sierra Leone is a transfer of wealth from Sierra Leone to other countries at an absurd level. These business owners in Sierra Leone are there for one reason only; exploit the country with the help of our politicians.
What are the differences between Foreign Investors & Wealth Transfer?
1. Foreign Investors will invest in viable and genuine businesses in Sierra Leone and create real job opportunities; in leadership, technical and technology skills, pay living wages and create viable businesses and opportunities for Sierra Leoneans and Sierra Leone businesses. With real foreign investments, a structure is put in place for the business to continue even if the original Investors decide to leave the country. They will also pay their fair amount of taxes to the country.
2. Transfer of wealth is where business people come to Sierra Leone with a boat load of their own people, pay their salaries in their country of origin, they don’t pay taxes in Sierra Leone and the business owners transfer all the wealth they accumulate in Sierra Leone to their country of origin and If they decide to leave, the business and wealth leaves with them.
What we currently have in Sierra Leone is a massive transfer of wealth taking place, not foreign Investments. If you work for a foreign owned business in Sierra Leone, that business will close if the foreign owners decide to leave. Because, they keep Sierra Leoneans at the bottom of the chain, thus, prevents business continuity.
Why is this bad for Sierra Leone?
They don’t pay their fair amount of taxes to the country, because they do cash intensive businesses and no one knows what the business revenues are.
They illegally transfer all the money they make in Sierra Leone out of the country to their countries of origin.
They bring in their own people to become managers and supervisors when 80 to 90% of the nation work force, including our college graduates are unemployed.
The only job opportunities they give Sierra Leoneans are, cleaners, shop boys, messengers, drivers and low level administrative positions.
They get to use the roads and other services that we pay for as a poor nation on borrowed money.
They enable corruption in the country, thus, facilitate more poverty in our Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone will continue to be a poor nation if these issues are not addressed by this government and subsequent governments.