Allan Barrie further disclosed that, in 20014 the government of Sierra Leone lifted a temporary ban on the exportation of timber by the then Chief of Staff and it gave exclusive right to Ali Suma to harvest timber from Sierra Leone, and that following the lifting of the ban on exportation of timber the Timber Association, Sierra Leone complained that they were sidelined, ignored and rejected by the government to trade in timber products.
He stated that a clearance was issued from State House mandating the companies to only export harvested timber, but that his association has been reliably informed that, the three companies are actively engaged in the exportation of raw timber products out of the country, contrary to the orders given to them by government to only export harvested timber products out of the country.
The Timber Association National President, Allan Barrie also disclosed that before the ban was imposed in 2013, the amount for processing of a container of timber was US$3,500 and US2000 of that amount used to be collected by the National Revenue Authority, while ten percent of that total sum was paid to government for aforestation.
According to him, his association observed that although the three companies are still paying the required amount to process a container of timber, but that the companies are now paying only US$1000 as tax to the National Revenue Authority and for this unpalatable development, he went on he would like to draw government attention to those violations of and for prompt action to be taken before the state loses billion of Leones.
Furthermore, the Secretary General of Timber Association, Sierra Leone Alhaji Bah urged the government to review the national policy on timber exportation as the indigenous timber producers and harvesters have been totally ignored, sidelined and rejected by government to trade in timber business in the country.
Alhaji Bah stated that President Ernest Bai Koroma should ensure that the local content policy is reviewed so as to accord opportunity to the Timber Association, Sierra Leone to trade in timber production in the country, by certifying them like the foreign Chinese companies including Banico Trading Company operated by a Nigerian called Patrick Bani,( aka Timber Termite).
He also urged the media and President Ernest Bai Koroma to ensure that the relevant ministries like the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Ministry of Trade and Industry assume the powers and the legal mandate to certified companies wanting to invest in the country’s timber resource, instead of the State House handling and certifying companies exporting timber products out the country, and at the same time fleecing government and the people of this country.
Concluding, the Timber Association Secretary General, Alhaji Bah called on the government and the relevant state authorities and organs to institute investigation into the exportation of raw timber product out the country and why the companies are only paying US$1000 tax to the National Revenue Authority instead of US$2000.