By S. U. Thoronka……………..
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah during the presentation of the Appropriation Act, 2016 praised the Management of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) headed by Commissioner Haja Kallah Kamara for their impressive revenue mobilization effort inspite of the Ebola outbreak in the country.
Dr. Marah attributed the remarkable performance to the gradual recovery of other sectors of the economy, the non-iron sector of the economy as well as stringent tax enforcement strategies being undertaken by NRA to augment revenue collection.
He praised the Commissioner General Haja Kallah Kamara for her exemplary leadership since taking over in 2009 noting that she has spearheaded a modernized programme that included staff development and professionalism in tax administration and the eradication of corrupt practices for the maximization of revenue collection.
The Finance Minister said the Ministry together with NRA would provide strategies to strengthen revenue mobilization and transparency in the tax system among which is to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) make provision for import duty in their budget for all contracts that are subject to taxes; review duty concessions to NGOs, tourism and road construction companies. Also increase the top PAYE marginal tax rate from 30% to 35% to make the tax system more progressive and would only affect those earning monthly incomes of above Le2million. Apply the existing commercial fuel price regime to the retail pump price, exchange rate movements and other inherited cost in the formula with the hope that it would minimize loss of government revenues and move distortions in the domestic petroleum market as total revenue loss from the current retail pricing formula amounted to Le113, 4billion as at October 2015.
Dr. Kaifala Marah stressed the need for NRA to proceed with its modernization programme, adding that DfID has approved a 3 year “Revenue 4 Prosperity” programme support to the NRA which would enable the implementation of strategies to strengthen revenue mobilization and transparency in the tax system. He said this would include building capacity for specialized revenue audit in the mining, financial and telecommunication sectors; implementing the Small Taxpayer Regime to improve compliance of the hard-to-tax sector; developing and implementing a revenue accounting and reconciliation system to improve the effectiveness of the reconciliation process with transit commercial banks and the Central Bank; expanding its automation drive to improve service delivery and curb fraud and tax evasion.
NRA is expected to introduce in 2016 an integrated tax administration system and migrate from ASYCUDA++ to advanced customized management systems for customs operations, introduce electronic cash registers that will interface with the Authority’s Tax Online System to allow real time capture of transactions which eventually would enhance GST compliance by reducing under-declaration or unauthorized receipts and hence increase revenue collection.
The Director of Finance and Budget at NRA, Mr. Abdulai Conteh who as Acting Commissioner General represented the NRA boss at the Budget reading expressed his delight at the Minister’s acknowledgement of the hard work and commitment of the NRA especially that of the Commissioner General, Madam Haja Kala Kamara who was attending a VAT/GST conference in Paris.
Mr. Conteh said taxation is fundamental to economic growth and sustainable development. “Being able to mobilize domestic revenue is crucial for any government as it affects fiscal power and ability to reduce foreign aid dependency, provision of essential public services and promotion of pro-poor development. The money we collect enabled the timely payment of salaries to all public sector workers throughout the outbreak. We have successfully implemented a number of tax reforms especially the use of modern information technology which has helped us simplify processes, enhance service delivery and above all improve accountability and transparency in the tax system. With the introduction the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA++) and most recently the domestic taxes information system we are on course to deliver for the good of the country”, Mr. Conteh said.
By S. U. Thoronka……………..