Thursday 27th October, 2022 was climaxed with an uncalled vote of division over the ratification of a Service Level Track and Trace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone (Represented by the Ministry of Finance and the National Revenue Authority) and SICPA S.A Relating to the ‘The operation of an independent competent management solution for domestic revenue mobilization,’ dated 17th October, 2022.
The agreement is geared towards the Client (GoSL) wish to introduce a secure track and trace solution for the monitoring of the domestic production and importation of a number of products (cigarette and other tobacco products, alcoholic beverages including spirits, wine and beer, energy drinks and petroleum products) in phase 1; and bottle water and soft drink in phase 2, in the territory with a view to enhancing excise tax revenue and reducing illicit trade. The main benifit for the Client will be to enhance domestic revenue mobilization and improve tax administration with SICPA estimating a tax revenue increase between 30-50%, with a Definitive Agreement Framework.
At the heart of the disagreement is the fear that the Company might take advantage of gaps in the agreement to fleece the state of revenue and consequently pass the burden on the ordinary citizens. It is against the backdrop of a skeptical debate which was outshone by opposition Lawmaker, Hon. Lahai Marah whose critical observations were nontheless appreciated by Mr. Speaker, Hon. Dr. C.A. Bundu who said that the concerns were too powerful to be ignored .
At the end, Mr. Speaker put the question in a collection of voices vote which unarguably was puntuated by the nay vote but with a contrary ruling in favor of the ayes. This was quickly procedurally challenged with a call for division subjected to SO 46.