The Deputy Minister of Finance 1, Dr. Patricia Laverley has stated that the Government of Sierra Leone is committed to crack down on corruption with the view of increasing revenue transparency in the mining and extractive sector to increase their share of revenue in total government revenue.
She made this disclosure while delivering the keynote address during the official launch of a report on the extractive industry title Buried Treasure.
“In the 2018 Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Conference in Senegal, President Julius Maada Bio emphasized the missed opportunity for Sierra Leone, due to tax avoidance in the extractive industry and the crucial role of transparency in combatting corruption and increasing accountability,” she said.
According to her, tax avoidance is extremely damaging for Africa and especially Sierra Leone, noting that this is a region that is home to half of the world’s people living in extreme poverty.
She congratulated Women on Mining and Extractives in collaboration with OXFAM-Sierra Leone for commissioning a study on the extractive sector which culminated into a report titled “the Buried Treasure Report”.
She said the initiative of organizing this solid Mining Forum that has brought together important stakeholders in the Extractive Sector is most timely; because Sierra Leone is still grappling with the dreadful repercussions of not only the Ebola scourge between 2014 to 2015 but a COVID-19 pandemic, which has adversely affected not only the extractive sector but also other key sectors of the economy.
Dr. Laverley said the recommendations contained in this very comprehensive report will help to provide answers to the many questions surrounding issues of effective governance of the country’s natural resources and finances and will also assist the government in identifying some of the challenges to mining revenue collections and how revenue collection from the extractive sector can be enhanced for the greater benefit of the citizens and posterity.
“Tax avoidance undermines the prospect of extractives sector-driven economic development. It deprives countries of invaluable revenues to invest in public services and exacerbates inequality.
Mining can encourage the construction of infrastructure, create jobs and facilitate technology transfer, and has the potential to fund education and health through tax payments to governments. Given this the Government is extremely eager to encourage extractives industry investment,” she said.
She said the New Direction Government has done quite a lot in the area of improving Extractive Sector Governance, noting that this is manifested in the enactment of the Extractive Industries Revenue Act in 2018, to better track revenues from the Extractive Sector of the economy including the establishment of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to help ensure that revenues from this are properly accounted for.
She said the government has committed to establishing a specialized unit within the National Revenue Authority to assist in stemming revenue loss due to Transfer Pricing by multinational companies.
She commended all the key players in the extractive sector for living up to the expectation of honoring their tax obligations with the Government of Sierra Leone through the National Revenue Authority, adding that government is in a hurry to build Sierra Leone and to provide the much-needed social and infrastructural services for its people and therefore rely on revenues from the extractive sector.
“We, therefore, use this opportunity to encourage all extractive industries to redouble their effort and improve their compliance with our tax system as Sierra Leone can only be a proud and be a donor independent nation if we can feed ourselves, generate our resources domestically to cover the huge development cost that will enhance economic growth,” she concluded.