SLBF

SLBF

 
Report on Training Workshops on Enhancing the Advocacy and Negotiation Skills of the Tax & Customs W PDF Print E-mail

 

Background

A 3-day training workshop on the theme “Enhancing the advocacy and negotiation skills of the Tax and Customs Working Group (TCWG), Sierra Leone Business Forum” was organized by the Sierra Leone Business Forum (SLBF) with funding from the Africa Directorate Prosperity Programme Fund 2012 of the British High Commission. The workshop was held in the Conference Room, SLBF Ltd, Freetown from February 11th to 13th 2013 and its objective was to further enhance and strengthen the advocacy and negotiation skills of the TCWG to enable them to articulate and express their specific needs when engaged in dialogue with the government and policy makers.

Prior to the commencement of the workshops, a training needs assessment was done for TCWG members and a questionnaire prepared as a basis for developing a training programme on advocacy and negotiations. The main issue that members recommended was training of trainers on skills development to mobilise and encourage members’ participation in advocacy and negotiations. Evaluation forms were also filled by each participant at the end of every workshop.

First Day’s Workshop

The opening ceremony of the 3-day workshop was chaired by Mrs. Marie Bob Kandeh (Board Member, SLBF) and the Welcome Remarks were made by Mr. Franklyn Williams, the Deputy Director of SLBF. Both these speakers emphasized the importance of the workshop for the participants in view of the growing importance of advocacy and negotiations for private sector development in Sierra Leone. They hoped that the participants would be able to effectively and fully utilise the knowledge and skills they would acquire from the workshop so as to become skilled advocates and negotiators who would be able to influence decision-makers, their policies and laws. Furthermore, they expressed profound thanks and appreciation to the British High Commission for its financial support under the Prosperity Programme Fund to facilitate the training programme.

A PowerPoint presentation on the basic concepts of advocacy and negotiation (definitions, processes of advocacy & negotiation etc.) was made by Mr. Glorious Momodu, a consultant at the Sierra Leone Labour Congress.

Questions

The following key questions were asked at the workshop:

  • Whether a certificate would be issued to participants at the end of the training workshops.
  • Is it possible for advocates to call on policymakers for negotiations?
  • If there is a split among advocates on issues being advocated for, will it be advisable to carry on with the advocacy? 

Second Day’s Workshop

It started with a recap of the last session followed by a PowerPoint presentation on the following topics: Understanding advocacy and negotiation in its generic context; building advocacy & negotiation skills to influence decision making, etc. In addition, participants were divided into three groups and a brainstorming session was done so as to evaluate their level of understanding of advocacy and negotiations.

Questions

  • Are there strategies/tactics negotiators can use to transform their position of weakness to a position of strength?
  • If policymakers fail to accept the concerns of the advocates, what should be the next step for them?
  • If negotiations take a longer time than expected and one party is anxious for a conclusion, what should the negotiators do?

Third Day’s Workshop

It also started with a recap of the second workshop followed by a PowerPoint presentation on building advocacy and negotiation strategies. A role playing session was also carried out on the topic: The Effects of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) on various businesses. Participants were divided into two groups with one group representing the private sector and the other policy makers acting on behalf of the government. The rationale for this exercise was to evaluate the extent to which participants had grasped the knowledge and skills on advocacy and negotiations. A feed back by the consultant and participants was subsequently done followed by recommendations.

Recommendations

  • The SLBF in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED) should replicate this training programme nation-wide.
  • Facilitate the process of understanding the legal and provisions of advocacy & negotiation at local and international levels.
  • Popularisation of the Local Content Policy in collaboration with Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Tax & Customs Working Group.
  • Advocacy and Negotiation be incorporated into college curriculum.
  • The issuance of certificates of participation to participants in subsequent training workshops.

 

Conclusion

The workshop provided the participants an opportunity to enhance their advocacy and negotiation skills to become effective advocates and negotiators so as to be able to effectively dialogue with government officials, policy makers and other stakeholders involved with private sector development in Sierra Leone and to highlight private sector concerns, advocate for reforms and influence decision-making. Based on an assessment of their evaluation forms, participants were generally satisfied with the scope, delivery and context of the presentations at the workshop. Furthermore, they were now better placed to use the knowledge and skills acquired at the workshop to effectively advocate and negotiate for reforms in the business environment. Each participant was given a copy of the training manual based on the workshop’s topic developed by the consultant that will serve as a source of reference and guide in the future. About twenty six members of the TCWG comprising civil society representatives, government officials, petty traders and small businesses attended the 3-day workshop. Media coverage was carried in the AWOKO daily newspaper and aired four times on STAR Radio including an interview of the Deputy Director, SLBF.