• July 8, 2021

Our Damning Investment Reputation

Our Damning Investment Reputation
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Last week, social media report of the suicide death of a popular Korean fishery investor, Kim Sung Yeon, has not portrayed any good image of Sierra Leone’s investment climate, considering the ordeal explained in Mr Kim’s suicide note to the state.Government is yet to comment on the suicidal death of one of its major investors in the fishery sector the Korean national Kim Sung Yeon, who has been in Sierra Leone for a very long time.Through his company, Kim Sung Yeon created lots of jobs for so many people including the youth and women in his community of operation, at Kent in the Western Rural District. And that earned him so much respect with friendliness in return from the communities he was operating.

Though a foreigner, his death is reported to have caused an irreparable loss to rural communities and the country at large, as his company relentlessly offered corporate social responsibly to people and organizations in rural communities in the district until his unfortunate demise.

The late Kim’s ugly encounters with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has now been exposed with the sad news of his premature death but who knows whether so many other foreign and local investors are not as well going through similar situations aimed at getting them out of business.

Since the end of the decade-long civil conflict, we have always been calling on global business leaders to choose Sierra Leone as one of the suitable business and investment destinations in the world, irrespective of the country’s horrible past.

Assurances of good and safe business destination in Sierra Leone have always been given to the world with hopes and aspirations that investors venturing into Sierra Leone will be fully protected, along with their liabilities by government through the appropriate agencies, rather than engaging foreign investors in a senseless bitter encounters like what Kim Sung Yeon went through in the hands of workers of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and its agencies, up to his untimely death for alleged tax fines.

That is not good for the image and reputation of Sierra Leone and its investment climate hence something must be done moving forward to position the country’s business and foreign investment image, restore high level of global confidence in investors like it had been in the last twenty years after the civil conflict.

Post-war leaders, including the late former President Alhaji Dr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and his immediate successor, former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, tried their level best in rebranding the country for the attraction of foreign investors. With such confidence building, global investment community leaders did bring to Sierra Leone substantial foreign direct investments as opposed to what is happening now under the Bio-led administration.  Sierra Leone has in the last three years plus proved to be a very hostile foreign investment destination.

That was why the nation saw massive influxes of foreign investors during the eras and administrations of former presidents Kabbah and Koroma. These two leaders and their governments left behind solid investment and business legacies that keep the national economy buoyant and investors like Kim Sung Yeon doing their best to improve business activity in Sierra Leone thereby laying the ground and consolidating the business ethos for the incumbent government of President Bio to thrive.

But the trend of a smooth-sailing business environment seems to be staggering and couldn’t continue due to unfavourable trade and tax policies that have continued to frighten and send away so many multinational foreign direct investments from Sierra Leone.

A case in point is the present hikes in taxes on foreign investors in the mining sector and the import and export sector, as well as on Non-Governmental Organizations Healthcare Service providers among others, all in an apparent effort to discourage foreign investors from doing business in Sierra Leone. This awful condition of service meted out to investment in this country is presently having so much ripple effects on the national economy and portraying the country’s investment character in a bad light to the world.

Something must be done to correct and rebrand Sierra Leone’s investment image from the current damning one to a good repute and restore confidence in order to re-attract foreign investors.

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