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Lawmakers ratify Petroleum agreement

The Parliament of Sierra Leone on Tuesday 17th November 2020 debated and approved a petroleum agreement geared towards the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Kissy Storage Tanks Project.

Presenting the agreement for ratification, Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy, said the agreement will ensure development on the petroleum infrastructure through rehabilitation of the storage facilities of the Kissy petroleum project and to expand the facilities to contain seven hundred thousand metric tons for purposes of reserving petroleum products.

He added that the intervention would boost revenue mobilization for the government and create job opportunities for the people of Sierra Leone.

Contributing, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay said the trade agreement is timely and important for the development of the sector. She referred to “maintenance culture” as a major challenge in Sierra Leone and therefore called for proper monitoring and evaluation of the project so as to meet its intended purpose, including job creation to enhance the livelihood of Sierra Leoneans.

Leader of the National Grand Coalition, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella said Parliament should be involved in the initial scrutiny process of any agreement before the executive in order to ascertain the relevance of such agreement to the nation. He said the petroleum industry is the lifeline for the development of any nation and called for the agreement to be checked and properly monitored during implementation. Based on research, Dr. Yumkella stated that the company had no track record in petroleum business and decried the huge tax concessions in favour of the company. He said as NGC, they would not support the agreement considering the huge tax concessions in the project.

The Chief Whip of Parliament, Hon. Dickson Rogers said the company has invested a lot of money in the rehabilitation process and he is of the firm belief that they have the capacity to deliver.

“It is high time we stop using politics in development and acknowledged that there is no perfect agreement in the world. The minister and the government are perfect by entering into this agreement for the development of the country,” he said.

On his Part, Hon. Osman Charles Abdulai supported the agreement and described it as “a laudable venture” aimed at expanding the storage facilities through rehabilitation. He called on the minister to take into consideration the safety of the environment and provision of storage facilities in the provinces.

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara said the issue of tax waiver is seriously affecting the revenue base of the country. He said 25% tax waiver in the agreement for the company would undermine revenue mobilization and called on the House to reduce the tax concession.

Hon. Musa Fofanah of C4C welcomed the initiative of government to rehabilitate the petroleum storage facilities and urged the trade minister to focus on the National Medium Term Development Plan, citing cluster eight which deal with communications and consultations.

Hon. Abdul Latiff Sesay commended the minister of trade for putting the documents together. He supported the rehabilitation project but decried the high tax waiver that has been given to the company.

Hon. PC Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III observed by giving tax waivers to the company is just to make the company richer and recommended for the reduction of the tax waivers and effective monitoring of the project.

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 debate, Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma advised MPs to avoid being subjective on 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.

“Petroleum products are political products and no government will want see a shortage of fuel,” he said. Allaying the fears of MPs with regards to the termination clause in the agreement, Hon. Nyuma said fuel shortages have the potential to halt the smooth functioning of the State.

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