By: James Kamara-Manneh

In a press conference held at the Information Ministry Conference Room in Freetown, Mohamed Bailley, Deputy Director of the Revenue and Tax Policy Unit, announced significant amendments to the Finance Act of 2024. These amendments are aimed at curbing the excessive consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks, promoting local industry, and fostering sustainable economic growth.

Mr. Bailley highlighted amendments to the Excise Act of 1982, which now includes revised rates based on the alcohol content of beverages. The intention is not only to generate revenue but also to discourage the consumption of harmful substances. Local beverage producers in Sierra Leone will receive incentives to encourage employment opportunities.

Specifically, excise rates on products like ‘Pegapak’ will be higher due to their higher alcohol concentration, but this will not impact production costs for local producers. Furthermore, excise taxes have been extended to include Shisha, Cigar, and Cigarettes, albeit with reduced rates to mitigate excessive taxation.

The government has also addressed concerns regarding petroleum product excise, opting not to liberalize the formula to prevent revenue loss and exploitation by larger companies. Amendments to the Forestry Act now require exporters to pay based on the value of timber, categorized into different classes, to ensure fair taxation.

In terms of income tax, provisions have been made to prevent businesses from operating at a loss for extended periods. A ‘carry forward’ agreement with the government allows struggling companies to seek relief for up to ten years.

Moreover, taxes on mining and agricultural activities have been reinstated while exemptions have been granted for locally produced vegetable oil. To fund free education initiatives, a 1% tax on withholding taxes has been levied.

In response to global economic challenges, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting cement and iron prices, the government has removed taxes on these commodities. This move aims to stabilize prices and attract investment, leading to the establishment of two new cement and iron rod companies in Sierra Leone.

These amendments represent a strategic effort by the Ministry of Finance to balance revenue generation with public health concerns, support local industries, and stimulate economic development in Sierra Leone.



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