The Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Sesay has confirmed that, the Finance Act 2017 was presented to His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at State House on Tuesday May 16, 2017 for his signature.
According to the Clerk of Parliament, if the President refuses to sign any Bill within fourteen days of its presentation for his signature, the President shall have cause to return the unsigned Bill to Parliament giving reasons for his refusal to sign it.
Section 106 subsection (8) of the 1991 Constitution states, “Where a Bill is returned to Parliament pursuant to subsection (7) and that Bill is thereafter passed by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament, it shall immediately become law and the Speaker shall there upon cause it to be published in the Gazette”.
The Sierra Leone Brewery Limited and the Sorghum Farmers Association have pleaded with the President not to sign the Finance Act 2017 because it will affect their businesses.
Campaigners for the Finance Act 2017 have argued that, if the President refuses to sign the Act, NRA (National Revenue Authority) would miss their revenue target for the Financial Year 2017.
Importers of alcoholic beverages have argued that, if the President refuses to sign the Finance Act 2017, they will halt all importations of alcoholic beverages and that will severely affect the revenue base of the government.
NRA figures show that, importers of alcoholic beverages pay a whopping Le15 Billion (Fifteen Billion Leones) a month as excise or import duty.
If the President refuses to sign the Finance Act 2017, about five hundred Sierra Leoneans will lose their every day earnings from the supply and distribution chain of imported alcoholic beverages.
The 2016 Finance Act gave a tax concession to Sierra Leone Brewery Limited which suggests that, the company is now enjoying a monopoly in the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages which are deemed to be of low quality.
Many people have called on the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited to improve on the quality of their products and also boost their production capacity.
Sierra Leone Brewery Limited says that they have spent about Le150 Billion to improve on the quality of their products and expand their distribution network.
They also argued that, they have helped local Sorghum farmers to boost their production capacity.
Many people are waiting to see whether or not the President will refuse to sign the Finance Act 2017.