Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Lamina, has on 26th June, damned the Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC) Yvonne Aki Sawyerr for what he referred to as eight hundred percent (800%) increment on property tax.
The minister was addressing journalists at a presser held at the Ministry of Information and Communications, where he informed the media that his Ministry had a very fruitful meeting with the mayor in regard to a letter he had written admonishing her to put on hold all actions relating to the eight hundred percent (800%) increment on property tax.
He further requested the Mayor to follow due process that would form the legal basis of the reform she was now proposing.
Tamba Lamina continues that they arrived at a very tangible conclusion that the Mayor has a lot to do as far as property tax is concern.
The minister raised concerns regarding the property tax including procedure and law, public engagement and consultation, ownership by the council staff at FCC, and the timing of the increment on property tax amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
With regards to procedure and law, the minister said the Local Government Act of 2004 is very explicit as to the processes involve in the review of property tax.
He said due procedures were not followed in the increment of property tax, adding that consultation with the Ministry of Local Government, which is the supervising Ministry, was not done.
He further stated that there are also provisions in the Local Government Act of 2004, which require the Ministry of Local Government, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, to develop guidelines to levy property tax, adding that those guidelines were not issued neither were they requested by the Freetown City Council.
He continues that enough consultations and engagements were not done to ensure public acceptability of the proposed increment of property tax.
Minister Tamba Lamina further emphasized the timing of the increment, which he said was wrong especially at a time when the country is battling with covid-19.
"I must inform you that the Mayor accepted and apologized for not engaging the Ministry as per due process. Also, for failing to request the required guideline that will stipulate the extent and limit of such taxes when they are levied. I have requested the Mayor to follow due process that will form the legal basis of the reform that she is now proposing. Again, I must inform Sierra Leoneans that the purpose we are here today is not that we are against the reform, because the Freetown city Council needs to reform and the Ministry is with them as far as that is concern. But prosperity will remember us for not following the due process if we were just to gush over the processes that I have outlined in the Local Government Act of 2004," he said.