By S. U. Thoronka.
The Commissioner, Domestic Tax Department at the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Ibrahim Sorie Kamara and the Director, Monitoring, Research and Planning, Mohamed James Foday during a press briefing on Tuesday 19th December, 2017, highlighted the domestic revenue performance for the year ended 2017 at the branch office conference hall, on Wellington Street in Freetown.
According to Mr. James Foday, the benchmark set by government for 2017, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was 3.468 Trillion Leones but that in April of the same year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviewed the amount and pegged the target at 3.639 Trillion Leones. According to Mr. James Foday the amount was further reviewed by IMF in September to read as 3.429 Trillion Leones, and that out of this amount NRA has up to 15TH December 2017, collected 3.014 Trillion Leones with a balance of 414 Billion Leones which they are hopeful of collecting by the end of December 2017, although they mentioned some challenges that could slow the process.
The major challenge which was clearly mentioned was that as the general elections are fast approaching, a lot of businessmen more so importers who are very skeptical of the outcome of the results of the elections as some anticipate negative outcome have decided to apply the wait and see method. “Those that are presently doing business are very reluctant to honor their tax obligation”, and the Commissioner said, this could pose a very big challenge for them as tax collectors but ruled out closing down such businesses as that could not be a solution to the problem either.
Giving a comparative analysis of the revenue performance, Mr. Foday said NRA has made a significant improvement in revenue mobilization taking into cognizance the amount collected this year in relation to that which was collected in 2016. He said in 2017, between January and November a total of 2.869, 151Trillion Leones was collected as against 2.453,098 Trillion Leones collected in 2016, between January and November giving an excess of 17% or 416.053 Billion Leones collected in 2017.
However, for the same period as above, Domestic Tax dropped by -1% or 18.011 Billion Leones that is to say, 1.662, 006 Trillion Leones in 2017 as against 1.680,017 Trillion in 2016. Income Tax alone is responsible for the drop in revenue that is to say, in 2017; 1.011,089 Trillion was collected as against 1. 079, 234 Trillion collected in 2016 while all other revenue areas experienced some amount of increase in revenue generation.
In buttressing the statement made by the Director Monitoring, Research and Planning, the Commissioner Domestic Tax Department Ibrahim Sorie Kamara noted that duty waiver is a challenge in revenue mobilization at the NRA. He said the issue of tax waiver is a law enacted by Parliament and that such law cannot in any shape or form change by the mere issuance of a press release but can be managed by mutual agreement between parties. He also mentioned the Pay As You Earn P. A.Y.E. tax which is not remitted on time as MDAs complained of not receiving subventions on time. He further noted that money to run the administration of NRA the 3% is not remitted on time; this he said undermines the work of NRA.
Commissioner Ibrahim Sorie stressed that the introduction of the Austerity Measure posed a multiplying effect on the economy that is to say reducing expenditures also means reducing taxable revenue.