In an effort to make air transport affordable and accessible to all Sierra Leoneans and also to promote tourism, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), through the Ministry of Finance, has eliminated the Goods and Service Tax (GST) levied on all aviation charges at the Freetown International Airport.
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The Minister of Finance, Hon. Jacob Jusu Saffa made this disclosure during the reading of the Government Budget for the 2020 Financial Year in the Well of Parliament. The GST exemption on all aviation charges is expected to take effect in 2020 after the enactment of the 2020 Finance Bill.
The objective of the tax exemption on aviation charges is to reduce the cost of travel to Sierra Leone in order to promote air transportation, boost tourism and create job opportunities. According to the budget: *“All aviation related charges will be exempted from the payment of GST. These include all aircraft handling charges and aircraft fuelling.”*
The Director General of Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Moses Tiffa Baio said the move made by the Government of Sierra Leone to exempt all aviation related charges in Financial Year, a2020 is a demonstration of government’s strong political will to develop the aviation industry in Sierra Leone, adding that it is another way of opening Sierra Leone to tourism and other development opportunities which can be an incentive for economic turnaround in 2020.
*“The elimination of GST on all aviation related charges at the Freetown International Airport opens the door to multiple opportunities of which the reduction of airline ticket prices in Sierra Leone is the key. Before now, airport charges and taxes levied on airline operations had direct impact on ticket cost which resulted to increase in air tickets. The tax exemption will reduce cost of operations for the airlines and thus foster industry growth and contribute to the promotion of Air transport and tourism in Sierra Leone,”* he said.
The effort to build a safe, secure, sound and economically viable aviation system in Sierra Leone has been one of the top priorities of the New Direction administration. Before the move to eliminate GST on aviation related charges, GoSL reduced all airport taxes levied on air tickets.
With these highlighted reductions backed up by the plan implementation of Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Government of Sierra Leone, it is expected that air ticket prices will be reduced considerably in 2020 and beyond.
Sierra Leone is a member of the African Tourism Board.