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The Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, has given a stern warning to all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to stay within agreed projects and programmes in the 2024 Budget.

“To achieve the deliverables of the Big Five Game Changers, MDAs must implement only policies, programmes and projects that have been agreed in this Budget,” he said.
In the FY2024 budget speech presented to Parliament on Friday 10th November, 2024, he made this call with the theme: “Restoring Macroeconomic Stability while Protecting the Poor and Vulnerable.” Giving the outlook and economic performance for 2023, the Minister stated that after recovering strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic with a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2021, the Sierra Leone economy slowed down to 3.5 percent in 2022. The economy is projected to grow moderately by 2.7 percent in 2023, stating that the uncertain global economic environment, coupled with high food and energy prices, continued to weigh on economic growth in 2023.
Parliament Ratified the Finance Act 2024 with multiple fiscal provisions to enhance revenue mobilization.
Amongst other issues, Government Wage Bill is projected to increase to NLe 6.5 Billion (6.4 percent of GDP in 2024 from NLe5.3 Billion (6.7 percent of GDP) in 2023. Of this, NLe385.3 Million is allocated of pensions and gratuities and other allowances. Contributions to the Social Security Fund for Government Workers will Amount to NLe 526.4 Million. The increase in the Normal Wage Bill provides the following:
A. Government’s commitment to a 45% increase in salaries for teachers which started in 2023 remain intact. Teachers will receive the second tranche of 15% in January 2024. Government will also recruit 2,000 additional teachers and reassess and promote 2,200 teachers, effective September 2024.
B. Recruitment of 2,000 healthcare workers, which is part of the delayed recruitment for FY 2021 and 2022 quotas as follows: 1,000 effective March 2024 and another 1,000 effective July 2024.
C. Recruitment of 500 new employees by subvented agencies including the newly established Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Technology
D. Recruitment of additional 500civil servants including the newly established Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Technology.
E. Recruitment of 500 staff by tertiary educational institutions effective April 2024 as follows:- 300, Colleges – 100 and technical and vocational institutions – 100 staff
F. Recruitment of 700 military personnel (including 58 military healthcare workers effective July 2024
G. Recruitment of 1,000 new employees by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service effective July 2024
H. Recruitment of 200 new employees by Fire Force Authority effective July 2024
I. Recruitment of 100 Consultants in FY 2024
Despite the tight fiscal space, Government awarded salary increases to teachers, staff of tertiary educational institutions and the security forces. Government also awarded salary increase to healthcare workers by maintaining the COVID-19 allowances.
Vital provisions in the Finance Act 2024 are as follows:
1. Introduction of 5% Import Duty on rice in 2024, increasing to 10% in 2025;
2. Increase in other Import Duties for cement (20%), cooking gas (5%) and iron rods (10%);
3. The Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) rate is reduced from 3% to 2% and only applies to loss-making companies;
4. Income derived from digital products and services by companies such as Google, Meta and Amazon from customers in Sierra Leone is taxable in Sierra Leone;
5. Adjustments in multiple Withholding Tax rates on Dividends, Management & Professional; Fees, and Lottery Winnings to 15%;
6. 1% Education Levy introduced, increasing contractors’ withholding tax rates to 6.5% (from 5.5%) for residents and 11.5% for non-residents (from 10.5%);
7. Harmonisation Excise Duty rates for domestic and import sectors, except for beer and stout;
8. Introduction of Excise Duty on plastic products;
9. Introduction of Excise Duty of 10% for gambling, betting and lottery;
10. Stamp Duty is adjusted with multiple rates for property and other transactions;
11. Goods and Service Tax (GST) registration threshold increased from SLE100,000 to SLE500,000;
12. Reintroduction of GST exemption for plant and machinery for agriculture, manufacturing, mining and petroleum sectors;
13. Introduction of Duty exemption for plant and machinery for some elements of the manufacturing sector; and
14. Demurrage days were adjusted from weekdays to official working days.

 

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