The Deputy Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Importers Association, Alhaji Sheriff Barrie, has asserted that the association possesses the necessary expertise and solutions to stabilize prices and revitalize the country’s economy.

Barrie outlined two key mechanisms that could effectively address price stabilization challenges:

Reinstating the 1969 Indigenous Act’s mandate for wholesalers to sell to retailers and retailers to sell to consumers. This distinction would eliminate the current blurring of roles, which has contributed to price hikes.

Eliminating the “exclusive right” policy that grants sole importation rights for specific products to a single individual. This policy breeds monopolies, enabling price manipulation.

Barrie emphasized that the association has repeatedly engaged with past and present Ministries of Trade to advocate for the removal of the exclusive right policy and a revision of the 1969 Indigenous Act to facilitate a more competitive and price-sensitive market.

In response, Emmanuel Billy Koji, Chief Director and Professional Head at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, clarified that the term “exclusive right” is not legally recognized, and that the existing law solely grants trademark rights to individuals who have acquired agency contracts from producers. Koji further highlighted Sierra Leone’s shift towards local production, with manufacturing’s contribution to GDP increasing from 3% to 17% in the past five years under the current government.

Koji emphasized the government’s recognition of the private sector as a driving force for economic growth and development. He assured that the Ministry is actively working to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, ultimately benefiting Sierra Leonean citizens.

The Sierra Leone Importers Association’s proposals and the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s response underscore the ongoing dialogue and collaborative efforts aimed at addressing price stabilization and economic growth in Sierra Leone.