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Sierra Leone: Transportation costs, petrol price hike reversed

 - Tuesday 31 May 2011.

Government of Sierra Leone

Press Release

Transportation costs to return to pre-May 1, 2011 level

The Ministry of Transport & Aviation and the Ministry of Trade & Industry held a successful meeting with key transport stakeholders including the Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union, the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority, the Sierra Leone Police, the Sierra Leone Traders Union, the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, and the Bike Riders Association, on Saturday May 28, 2011 at the offices of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation in Freetown to discuss the implementation of the national television and radio broadcast of H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on Friday, May 27, 2011.

The meeting resolved that as a sign of patriotism, sincerity and devotion to the development of this country and as demonstration of our respect for the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, it was unanimously agreed to temporarily revert transportation costs all over the country to the pre-May 1, 2011 level WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT.

In the interim, the Ministries of Transport & Aviation and Trade & Industry will remain engaged with all transport stakeholders with a bid to seeking an amicable way of dealing with the current situation.

We call upon the understanding of our compatriots.

Signed:

Hon Minister of Trade & Industry

Hon Deputy Minister of Transport & Aviation

National Traffic Coordinator, Sierra Leone Police

Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation

Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority

Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union

Sierra Leone Labour Congress

Sierra Leone Traders Union

Bike Riders Association

28 MAY 2011

Broadcast Statement by His Excellency The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on the rising cost of petroleum products and other commodities.

Fellow Citizens,

In the past two weeks, I have listened to you expressing concerns over the rising prices of commodities, especially fuel and essential food stuffs.
Let me assure you, fellow citizens, that I also feel the pain.
You are no doubt aware that the current problems are not home-made, but are problems imposed upon us by external factors beyond our control.
Some of these include:

1. The social instability in some of the major oil-producing countries with its attendant adverse effect on fuel prices:

2. The natural disasters, such as flooding and monsoons in the traditional rice-growing areas of southeast Asia;

3. The conditionalities imposed upon us by our multilateral donor partners, whose budget support at this point in time is both invaluable and indispensable.

Consequently, you will realise the hard choices faced by my government. As a nation, we are caught between a rock and a hard place. How do we ease ourselves out of this situation without adverse impact on the people and the national economy?

From 2008 to 2011 government has been paying a fuel subsidy to cushion the effect of rising oil prices on the population.

It is important to note that the subsidy requirement increased from Le1.6bn per week in October 2010 to Le 4.72bn per week by mid March 2011, reached a subsidy requirement of Le 6bn per week by end April 2011. This amount, if saved, can build a modern highway, the length of the distance from Kenema to Pendembu every year, without donor support.

In addition, revenue earned from petroleum excise duty, which we have forgone, was used to augment funds expended on the free healthcare and school subsidies.

However, as President in a responsible government, it is my duty to balance
infrastructural development against the imperatives of the bread and butter issues.

Therefore, as a temporary measure, I am making the following pronouncements, ensuing from consensus arrived at during several days of consultative discussions by committees I had set up, made up of The Youth Coalition, Civil Society, Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Oil Marketing companies, Petroleum Dealers Association, Petty Traders Associations, Sierra Leone Police, Consumers Associations as well as government Ministers and Officials:

1. With effect from midnight, 27th May 2011, petrol, diesel and kerosene will be sold at Le4500.00 per litre.

2. All Oil Marketing companies and dealers are requested to ensure that all pumps are adjusted to reflect the new price of Le 4500.00.

3. The 10% duty on imported rice is suspended with immediate effect.

4. All rice importers and dealers are requested to adjust all prices accordingly and immediately.

5. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is instructed to deploy all trade monitors to ensure a smooth transition to the new price structure.

6. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation is instructed to work with the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union and other stakeholders to ensure that transport fares revert to the pre-May 1st level with immediate effect, in order to further reduce the burden on our people.

7. The Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation will continue to provide more buses at the designated places at affordable fares.

8. I have already instructed the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to provide the necessary financing for procurement of 40 buses to add to the present fleet of the Road Transport Corporation.

At the same time, Government continues to engage all stakeholders to further reduce the impact of the worldwide increase in the price of commodities in the country.

Fellow citizens, let me reassure you that my government will leave no stone unturned in seeking the best outcome for your welfare, social and economic development even under the most difficult of circumstances.

Therefore, fellow compatriots, let me appeal to all concerned to exhibit a sense of patriotism, sincerity and devotion during these challenging times.

I thank you.

Photo: Trade minister Richard Konteh.