The Trade ministry is requesting the total of Le3,848,000,000 (three billion, eight hundred and forty eight million Leones) for the 2019 financial year to enable them carry out activities and programmes set out in their strategic plan, although the budget ceiling given to them by the Finance Ministry was Le3,020,000,000 (three billion and twenty million Leones).
“We are determined to promote more and better trade. We also want to open up the market so as to allow more players. This will help us in our quest to discourage monopoly and make it very easy for businesses to thrive and prosper in the country,” the Trade Minister said.
To enable them achieve the above objective, Minister Konteh informed his audience that they would be obliged to recruit more competent staff and build their capacity and review obsolete policies.
He stated that Sierra Leone was currently not business friendly, adding that it was very important to look into the current tax regime.
He added that they would work with the Ministry of Finance to see how the tax regime could be harmonized and made business friendly.
“Clearing of goods at the port has been challenging and as such, together with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, we have to simplify the clearing of goods at the port. We want within 72 hours a businessman or woman should be able to clear his/her container at the port,” he said.
Mr. Konteh also spoke about the possibility of building better market facilities as according to him, market facilities were in a deplorable state.
He noted that it was the responsibility of government to ensure that traders sell their wares in a business friendly environment.
With regards small and medium enterprises, the minister said they intend providing more support to traders because they believe strongly that it was time for the people to have a hold on the economy.
“A country whose economy is not controlled by its citizens is a very fragile country. We will encourage investors, but we have to be in charge of the economy,” he added.