The National Investment Board has on October 7th, 2021, ended a three days pre presidential public- private dialogue they organized at the Office of Vice President- Tower Hill in Freetown.
The dialogue created an interface between investors and the investment stakeholders in the country to meet and discuss challenges affecting Sierra Leone’s investment space and map out appropriate solutions to them.
It held representations from investment stakeholders, the import and export sector, small and informal business in the country and had examined issues relative to taxation, customs, legislative reviews, Sierra Leone’s legal tender, export licenses, enforcement of existing laws to address street trading, trade monopoly, and lack of equal opportunities etc.
Professor Marda Mustapha, Executive Director of the National Investment Board, said the essence of the dialogue was to prepare themselves before they meet the president.
“What we intend doing here is to actually listen. The importance of this is to prepare ourselves, to present ourselves to the president so that the issues that we identify here and the recommendations that we make will be laid before the president and hopefully the president will give us marching orders as to how to fix the problems.”
Professor Marda Mustapha added that the dialogue was different because they were not there just to make a talk shop.
“We are intending to take it to the president. And at the end of the day we will all agree on something. There are challenges we know, but the agreement will give us a quick fix and everyone will be forced to keep to their sides.”
The NIB boss revealed that one of the problems the country has been facing in terms of investment in the country is bureaucracy.
“The NIB will be different in this case. We will do follow ups so we’ll know if there are problems. Be rest assured that if anyone messes up, the vice president will know, the president will also know because we keep them updated on the happenings of the secretariat.”
He also disclosed that there’s now a bill for NIB in Parliament and anytime pretty soon enough, there will be a law to organize the business space in the country.
“Let’s be assured that the business space will be more organized this time. This a pre- presidential public private dialogue. We are preparing ourselves. Bring out your problems and let’s find a solution.”
Professor Mustapha thanked the participants for their support. He stated that the investment board will partner with Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce to properly organize investment in the country.
“We will sign an MoU with the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce. But also, do not forget that we will take these suggestions to the president and find a middle man solution to them. We will sign an agreement that will work for all.”
In his statement, Dr. Samuel S. Jibao, Commissioner General, National Revenue Authority (NRA), noted reforms which his institution had undergone in recent times to support investment in the country.
He spoke about the end product of NRA’s ITAS reform which is to facilitate registration, payment and filing of returns online. This, according to him, will greatly help to bring down the compliance cost and reduce the inflow of taxpayers into NRA premises.
Other participants inclusive the President of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance had also made salient contributions to the dialogue.
The dialogue was well attended and inclusive.
It’s chaired by the Secretary to the Vice President and was facilitated by Dr. Gaima, Presidential Adviser on Governance in the Office of the President.
(C) Guardian Sierra Leone