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Sierra Leone News: Over Le125m accrued demurrage…HIV, TB, Malaria drugs may be auctioned

Medical supplies bought by the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria program will be auctioned by the Shipping Agency for failure to pay an accrued demurrage of Le 125,100,450 as at 30 July, 2018.
The Shipper CMA CGM has sent invoices to the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) for the three containers currently seated at the ports waiting clearing.
“We have our goods at the quay that have attracted demurrage that we need to pay for and we have been struggling with that for a very long time” said NAS Director General, Dr Momodu Sesay.
According to him, the said commodities came around the electioneering period and the Secretariat was to secure duty waiver for the goods, “we don’t buy our drugs they are bought by Global Funds and we are responsible for clearing.”
The Global Fund rules state that their resources must not be used to pay for duty charges at the Port. Normally they are given the privilege to have duty waivers as an exemption signed by both the Ministry of Health and Finance.
Dr Sesay said that it was difficult for them to get the two ministers to sign during that period and by the time they got the waivers signed and taken to the Port the new government was already in office.
The President’s Executive Order No.1 issued on 9th April 2018 on Revenue Mobilization stated amongst others that ‘current exemption requests submitted to Government must be retrieved immediately by the applicants concerned’.
This directive however affected the process even though they were already signed as they were returned to the Secretariat. He said that they have been struggling with both ministries, submitting documents, writing statements and even faced the transition team to explain the issues of the commodities.
“We are not a revenue generating institution and we rely on what we get from government, since this year started we are yet to receive funds from the Ministry of Finance and so we are unable to pay” said Dr Sesay.
Even though the duty waiver process has been shortened it will only be applicable to the next consignment of medical supplies they may receive.
“We had a meeting with the shipping agency and they have warned that if we do not clear the goods they will auction it. We have the waiver but the demurrage is there, we have told them not to do that as we will fight our way to get the containers out.”
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Tuesday August 01, 2018.

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