The Parliament of Sierra Leone Tuesday approved a petroleum agreement geared towards the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Kissy Storage Tanks Project. The deal is a concession agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and All Petroleum Products-SL for the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Kissy storage tanks.
The document was tabled by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandy. He informed the House that the agreement was to ensure development on the infrastructure by rehabilitating the storage facilities and to expand it to contain seven hundred thousand metric tons for purposes of reserving petroleum products. This, in turn, will boost revenue mobilization for the government and create job opportunities for the people of Sierra Leone, he went on.
Trade Committee Chairperson, ruling SLPP’s Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay in her contribution said the agreement was timely and important for the development of the trade sector. She referred to “maintenance culture” as a major challenge in Sierra Leone. She called for proper monitoring and evaluation of the project to meet its intended purpose including job creation to enhance the livelihood of the people of Sierra Leone.
Minority National Grand Coalition (NGC), Hon. Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella cautioned that Parliament needed to be involved in the process from the start to its execution to ascertain the relevance of such agreements to the nation. He said the NGC was not in support of the agreement considering the huge tax concessions to the company. He decried the huge tax concessions in favour of the company when in real fact that based on research, the company has no track record in the petroleum business.
He, therefore, called for the agreement to be properly monitored during implementation as he said the petroleum industry is the lifeline for the development of any nation.
The Chief Whip of Parliament, Hon. Dickson Rogers held a contrary view to the NGC leader, saying the company has invested a lot of money in the rehabilitation process, hence, was of the firm belief that they could deliver.
Hon. Rogers agreed that there was no perfect agreement in the world and urged to put party politics aside for the development of the nation.
Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) noted that the issue of tax waiver continued to seriously affect the revenue base of the country. He said 25% tax waiver in the agreement for the company would undermine revenue mobilization. He, therefore, called on the House to reconsider the tax concession.
Hon. Musa Fofanah of C4C welcomed the initiative of government to rehabilitate the petroleum storage facilities and called on the minister to focus on the National Medium Term Development Plan relating to cluster eight dealing with communications and consultations.
Paramount Chief Representative, Hon. PC Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III observed that giving tax waivers to the company was just to make the company richer so he also recommended for the reduction of the tax waivers. He asked for the effective monitoring of the project as well.
Rounding, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah, Leader of the Opposition said the agreement is very important and relevant for the development of the country. He shared the views expressed by the leader of NGC relating to huge tax waivers that have been given to the company. He called on Parliament to review any agreement at the initiation stage before the executive can decide otherwise. He commended the minister for the agreement and supported the rehabilitation of the petroleum project.
Concluding, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma advised MPs to avoid being subjective on a debate on political grounds but rather to indulge in debate for the benefits of the people of Sierra Leone. He thanked MPs who contributed to the motion and added that the agreement would hugely benefit the government and the people of Sierra Leone.
He also said: “petroleum products are political products and no government will want to see a shortage of fuel”. Allaying the fears of MPs with regards to the termination clause in the agreement, he said fuel shortages have the potential to halt the smooth functions of the State.
In a related development, Parliament also passed into law the Bill entitled: “The Finance Act, 2021” with some amendments to enable Government to collect revenue for its Le9.2 Trillion National Budget for 2021 themed “economic recovery for job creation and human capital development.”
Credit: Department of Public Relations Parliament of Sierra Leone