Recovering from the pandemic has proved challenging for Sierra Leone, as the war in Ukraine has caused high inflation that has exacerbated food insecurity, while threats related to climate change continue to intensify.

With growth slowing globally, Sierra Leone is in a difficult fiscal position. The government needs to raise more tax revenue to finance vital infrastructure and the public services citizens need, which will be high on the agenda as next year’s election approaches. But how can it do this without deterring investment and overburdening the vulnerable?

On December 7th and 8th, over 100 policymakers, researchers, members of civil society, and other stakeholders will gather at the Radisson Blu in Freetown for a conference on the topic of tax for development in Sierra Leone.

The event is hosted by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) and the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), in partnership with the National Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance. The conference will feature eight sessions with presentations of research and policy discussions on issues including taxing the informal sector, tax and equity, use of technology in tax administration, local government taxation in the provinces, and property taxation in Freetown.

The ICTD is an independent research centre focused on improving tax policy and administration in lower-income countries. It has been conducting research in Sierra Leone for over a decade, with the first study published in 2013 co-authored by Dr Wilson Prichard, now the ICTD’s Executive Director, and Dr Samuel Jibao, now the Commissioner General of the NRA.

Dr Jibao will speak at the conference opening along with Abu Augustus Brima, the Executive Director of the Network Movement for Justice and Development and Foday Bassie Swaray, the Executive Director of ActionAid Sierra Leone.

The Coordinator of BAN, Abu Bakarr Kamara, who will chair the session said “I’m very much looking forward to bringing stakeholders together to address the critical issue of mobilising tax revenue. In these hard times, it is important that we engage so that the best policy options can be determined and implemented, and that this is done transparently so that taxpayers can hold the government accountable for how public revenue is raised and utilised.”

ICTD Research Fellow Dr Vanessa van den Boogaard, who has been conducting research with partners in Sierra Leone for over ten years said “With the 2023 budget in progress, and a real need for more revenue to deliver improvements in energy, healthcare, education, and other essential development objectives, I’m thrilled that we will have the opportunity to share our research results with key stakeholders. Although there has been good progress on tax collection in Sierra Leone, the current challenges make it even more important to sit down together and see how our evidence and insights can inform the policy agenda for the good of the country and citizens in Sierra Leone.”


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