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BY SAHR DUMBAR MATTURI
The Timber Association Sierra Leone have exposed the Office of the Chief of Staff at State House in dealing in shady Timber deals as a result creating an embracement for President Koroma ,this revelation came out on Thursday 26th April 2016 during a press briefing held at SLAJ Office on Campbell Street in Freetown.
The Secretary General of the Association, Augustine Bappie informed journalists that since 2014 and recently 2016, government only give clearance for timber export to foreign Companies leaving the indigenes businessmen in the cold which is now run like a syndicate.
The association was never informed as to the reasons for the shift and this has kept them out of job and thousands of able body youths employed by them, adding further that this violates the Local Content Policy set up by His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai President Koroma and they now exporting raw Timber instead of already harvested Timbers.
Expressing their disappointment on the Office of the Chief of Staff at State House, the President of Timber Association Sierra Leone Mr. Allan Barrie disclosed that the three companies are a Nigerian and Chinese Companies which includes Banico Holdings situated at Bai Bureh Road, CCFG on Wilberforce Street and CFG Construction and General Supplies on Adelaide Street were granted the clearance this year.
These companies are defrauding the State by not paying the correct fees. The payment should be $ 3500 for processing, $ 2000 for tax and ten percent for reforestation, they are only pay $1000 to NRA as tax and the rest into their secret coffers.
In addition, these three Companies are in a Syndicate of exporting the raw timber log out of the country which contravenes what the policy states, is only harvested timber should leave the country, therefore called on government to intervene by instituting and investigation on the said matter.
Mr. Barrie also urged pleaded with government to allow the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security and the Ministry of Trade to superintend on the issuance of clearance to business people on the export of timber out of Sierra Leone as they have the skill and professional that could handle it with ease bringing sanity in the Timber industry.