The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) Agreement for the establishment of a single standard interface for invoicing and payment between travel agents and airlines.
Operating in 181 countries, the Billing and Settlement Plan is set to facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents, as well as improve financial control and cash flow for its approximately 400 participating airlines.
Signing the agreement, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Kabineh Kallon described the initiative as a laudable venture that will create the enabling environment for tourism and trade to blossom, adding further that the Government of Sierra Leone spends an annual fortune on foreign travel due to huge variances in ticket sales to the same destination.
“Having a BSP in Sierra Leone will allow for the domestication of global standards that ensures the security and reliability of funds among participants in the air travel and trade value chain. It will also enhance accountability in revenue management for the National Revenue Authority and the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA),” the Minister said.
In his statement, the Director General of Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Moses Tiffa Baio said the signing of the BSP agreement is a testament of government’s commitment to make the aviation industry competitive in the sub-region. He added that the BSP is another step taken to reduce air ticket burden on Sierra Leoneans as it strives to stabilize the fluctuation of the exchange rate.
“I am happy to announce that Sierra Leone is the first country to sign the BSP agreement within the Sub-region. The BSP will provide immense benefit for the government and the people of Sierra Leone in that it provides predictability, certainty and sanity for ticketing, reporting and remittance generated from Foreign Travel Tax (TAX) and other taxes levied on airlines, travel agents and other aviation service providers,” he said.
IATA’s Head of Account Management for West and Central Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun expressed his appreciation to all players involved, commenting further that the BSP will boost Sierra Leone economy greatly as more jobs will be created, more airlines and travel agencies would be established which would improve the Freetown International Airport (FNA) and other sectors. He concluded by stating that the government has already taken the lead to improve the aviation industry which in itself is a great achievement.
While commending the government for the agreement signed, the Head of Sierra Association of Travel Agencies (SLATA), John Rogers said that government has demonstrated that in the introduction of BSP, Small and Medium Enterprises have not excluded from the process. “The BSP will not only benefit travel agencies, but also the country and those tourists who would want to visit Sierra Leone. While we commend the SLCAA Boss for his effort, we assure the government of Sierra Leone that the BSP will be a success,” he said.
The Secretary of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), Mr. Edgar Lacle thanked the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, noting that it is a step in the right direction. He assured the government and the people of Sierra Leone of the board’s continued support to not only BSP initiative, but also any project that seeks to develop the aviation industry.