The Centre for Economic Research and Capacity Building (CERCB), just concluded a week-long regional dialogue workshops, where findings on recent surveys on ‘taxpayers’ perceptions’, and ‘informal taxation’ in post-conflict Sierra Leone, were shared.

The dialogue workshops were held in June/July 2014, in seven (7) district headquarters, where the surveys were conducted. This was under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Jibao, our key researcher in Sierra Leone, who is also the Executive director of the CERCB.

The districts where the surveys were conducted include: Bombali and Koinadugu in the North; Pejehun and Moyamba in the south; and Koilahun, Kono and Kenema in the East.

Here are some of the general, yet interesting findings:

  •      There is low-level trust (in government), therefore, people see high tax rates or the introduction of new tax as unfair,
  •      There has been no fairness in the imposition of property taxes, as some are taxed far higher than others, and
  •     Tax compliance increases when people have a positive perception of the quality and quantity of services provided (many citizens refuse to comply with tax payment because the do not see tangible evidence of proper utilization of their taxes).

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Other than just the seven districts, the team also held a meeting in Freetown, to engage with the national stakeholders and policymakers. More than thirty (30) participants attended the Freetown meeting, and this included, Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministry of Local Government, Local Government Finance department, policymakers from the 7 district councils surveyed, Civil Society activists, as well as media practitioners.

These dialogue forums were not only meant to share the findings of the surveys, but to also prompt discussion, about a wide range of issues and challenges in local government taxation.

And judging by feedback and the immense media coverage these events received (both nationally and regionally), the meetings were a success. This was despite the ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone at the time.