September 28, 2022

By Donstance Koroma
Vox-pop conducted at Kissy community, east of Freetown, reveals mixed feelings over tax increase on GSM operators in Sierra Leone.
Donstance Koroma: Mobile phone companies have cut off all promotions owing to tax increase by government, what is your view?
Julius Caulker, a Petty trader of No. 21 personage street Kissy, Freetown:

I am really confused when I realised there is no more promotions especially Africell Sunday bonus because of an increase in tax by government. I consider it unfortunate that government failed to consider the impact of tax increase on the final consumer. I will no longer enjoy the good time I used enjoy with my friends and families across the country.

Donstance Koroma: Now that all promotions have been stopped by Mobile phone companies as a result of tax increase, what is your advice?
Mohamed Koroma, Top up seller at Shell Old road Junction: Government should try to reverse the “unwise” decision. From my experience, the number of customers who purchase Le 2,000 top-up card is far greater than those that purchase above 2,000.
This means most customers want to purchase above Le 2,000 but the means is not there. Currently, Le 2,000 top-up credit cannot make a three-minute implying that we {top-up credit sellers} will start to experience low sales.

Donstance Koroma: What is the economic impact on the stoppage of promotions by mobile phone companies?
Joseph Godwin, Contractor at 27 Black Hall Road: Since the ‘New Direction’ administration came to power, life has become difficult for the ordinary man. Bread-and-butter issue remains unsolved. Communication is power and many citizens facilitate their daily activities via mobile phones. Therefore, government, in their wisdom, should have recognized the country’s hardship and made no increase in tax.
Owing to the far-reaching consequences, therefore, I think government should reverse the decision because it is not in the country’s interest.

Donstance Koroma: What is your view about the cut-off on all promotions by mobile companies?
Hawa Musu Konneh, A fish Monger at Low-cost Market: I was using Le2, 000 Africell top-up to call my families in the provinces. But, owing to the tax increase by the government, I no longer enjoy that facility.
I have to provide lunch and transport for my three school children, and things are becoming difficult by every tick of the clock. Therefore, Le 2,000 Africell credit is not enough meaning my spending has increased. Sierra Leone is hell and the ‘New Direction’ is complete rubbish.

Donstance Koroma: what is your view on the halt of all promotions by mobile companies operating in the country?

Amadu Barrie, ‘Ataya’ Base Owner, Up-Gun: I have travelled to many West African Countries and I have realised that Sierra Leone tariff billing is high compared to other countries in the region.
The government’s increase in tax on mobile operators was never a right decision because of the country’s economic situation.
Now, the financial burden has shifted on the final consumer thereby worsening the economic condition of ordinary citizens. My Sunday Africell bonus and other promotional services by mobile companies no longer exist. Government must think again about the tax increase because we are not happy about promotions that have been cut off.

Donstance Koroma: How do you see the tax increase that has led to the cut-off on all promotions by mobile companies?
Kassim Kanu, Commercial Driver, at Salmon Street, Kissy, Freetown: I wonder which area of the economy that the Bio administration will not increase tax; say what you may, the commissioner at National Telecommunications Commission representing the ordinary people should explain why they increase tax for mobile companies . Everything has been politicized.

Donstance Koroma: What is your take on the tax increase on promotions by mobile companies?

Zainab Kargbo, saloon owner, Jones Street, Kissy: I am very disappointed that we no longer enjoy communication as we previously did because of the increase in tax by government. Everything is going expensive including communication that is expected to be cheap. I call on government to reverse the tax increase to enable the citizens enjoy the promotions again.

Donstance Koroma: Are you affected by the increase in tax by government on all promotions offered by mobile companies?
Kandeh Kamanda, spare parts dealer, PWD Black Hall Road: By the look of things, the government did not take into consideration the effect the decision may have on the final consumer which is very unfortunate. The ordinary citizens should be at the center of every government decision. The government is making life difficult for the ordinary man. I call on NATCOM and the government to reverse the decision because Le 2,000 top-up credit from any mobile company can’t start and end a conversation. The situation is too bad.

Donstance Koroma: Are you affected by the cut-off on all promotions by mobile companies owing to government increase in tax?
Abass Bangura, Motor Bike Rider, Shell, and New Road Freetown: The current government is not doing well for the people since they came to power. Hardship is visible in all corners of the city. They can’t take simple decision that will benefit the general citizenry. If they refuse to reverse this decision, we are going to join Edmond Abu to stage a peaceful demonstration.

Donstance Koroma: Mobile companies have stopped all promotions owing to government increase in tax, what is your reaction?
Alhassan Kargbo, Junks Seller at Kissy Market: I am considering the effect the decision of NATCOM might bring to the people in the provinces. Many people are limiting the effect to the city. In the provinces Le 2,000 is very difficult to come by and many of our relatives have used to Africell Sunday Kola which is no more.
It’s also implies that we are going to lose touch with relatives in the provinces. I wonder what advice the advisers to the president are doing.
This government ought to be careful.

Donstance Koroma: What is your view on the removal of all promotions by mobile companies owing to an increase in tax?
Josephine William, William Street Kissy, Freetown:

To move from a donor-driven economy to a tax-driven one is good but it should not be automatic. Continuous tax increase on companies and businesses at this time is not reasonable, hence the reason for the suffering in the country.
The people have shown understanding with government for some blunders in other sectors of the economy. But, the blunder on the Telecommunication companies is unbearable and need to be looked into.

Donstance Koroma: What is your concern, if any, on the removal of all promotions by mobile companies owing to a government tax increase?
Lamin Massaquoi, Auto Mechanic, Bai Bureh Road, Freetown.
As far as I am concerned, the mobile company operators have not been paying correct taxes to the former government. The situation made us not to enjoy effective communication. The only thing, many people want this government to fail but I am hopeful that it will transform the country in ten years and will bring to book those that are responsible for the current economic challenges the country faces.