Cement, Iron Rod Prices Remain The Same
The demand for cement and iron rod have increased tremendously in Sierra Leone due to the massive construction work undertaken by Sierra Leoneans and foreign nationals.
Due to such demand, importers have been crying bitterly in relation to the amount of taxes being levied by the Government through the National Revenue Authority (NRA) on these products.
The importers in turn increased the prices of cement and that of iron rod to the wholesalers. At the end, the poor retailers are faced with the consequences, with nowhere to shift the burden.
And in order to cushion the burden on the retailers and the average Sierra Leoneans as a whole, three weeks back, the Government of Sierra Leone decided to reduce taxes on the aforementioned products.
National Revenue Authority, the tax on iron rod, which used to be t 10%, has been reduced to 5%, and for cement which used to be at 20% has been reduced to 10%. Such reduction as per the notice from the Commissioner-General of NRA should take immediate effect.
The reduction in real terms means that cement price should drop from Le110,000 per bag to between Le75,000 to 80,000 per bag and iron rod form Le 19 million per ton to Le 5 or 6 million.
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About a week after the notice of tax reduction came out, the Ministry of Trade and Industry immediately invited the importers and other business people to a meeting at Youyi building to discuss the way forward. But handful of business people showed up. Due to such neglect, the Minister of Trade, Hinga Sandi and his team closed down certain shops, whose owners had been defiant to the invite.
Notwithstanding, the importers later turned up for the meeting, as the Minister, his deputy and other senior heads were present to discuss the way out for not only cement and iron rod but other pertain business issues as well.
According to a shop owner at Jomo Kenyatta road, Alhaji Jalloh, “nothing has changed for now; I’m still selling the cement at Le110,000.” He said even though the Government has made reduction in the taxes price before the tax was reduced. The noted that “if the price is reduced by the importers, they will do the same as wholesalers,”
Jalloh added that nobody wants to pay at a high rate particular in this part of the world when things are difficult. Jalloh is not the only individual selling cement at Le110,000, all the shops from Campbell Street to Waterloo are selling cement Le110,000 for the locally made and Le115,000 for the imported version, and the iron rods price still remain at Le115,000 and Le120,000 per length.
Talking to a frustrated contractor, Mohamed Kamara said government should not have issued out such notice, because there is no difference.” He said despite being in control he is currently building his own house and the prices of cement and iron are deterring his progress.
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Awoko Newspaper reports that, he called on the government to take firm action against these importers that want to make triple profit on the head of the masses.