By S. U. Thoronka…………………………………….
The Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Dr. Philip Kamara, has said the target for 2017 revenue collection, is three trillion, five hundred and ninety six billion Leones (Le3, 596, 000,000,000) out of which one hundred and twenty-eight billion Leones (Le128, 000,000,000) would be collected from road user charges and licenses.
He said it would be a big challenge for this year as the Parliamentary and Presidential elections are approaching and that most businesses are reluctant to pay taxes, but he, however, assured that NRA has introduced aggressive tax registration of small businesses in a bid to increase tax revenue base.
He made the revelation at a press conference held at the NRA regional office on Wellington Street, Freetown where media practitioners were briefed on the status of the institution and debunked negative media publications.
Dr. Kamara said targets are set by NRA in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development based on the Gross Domestic Product GDP, and that the set targets are compared and harmonized with that of the International Monetary Fund IMF. “Before setting the targets we first of all try to know how the economy performed the previous year taking into consideration the Consumer Price Index CPI and projection is subsequently done after the budget has been read in Parliament”.
He said in September 2016, the revenue was upgraded to two trillion, seven hundred and four billion Leones (Le 2, 704,000,000,000) and that two trillion, seven hundred and ninety-nine billion four hundred and four million (Le2,799,404,000,000). He said all departments at the NRA exceeded their target.
Dr. Kamara informed that from 2009 to 2016 a lot of improvement has been made including the introduction of the ASECUDA++, Goods and Services Tax, e-filing process, NTR system which interface with the cadastral system in the mining sector.
Dr. Kamara furthered that the key reforms that are to be implemented included integrated tax reform system, to migrate from the ASECUDA++ to ASECUDA words which is a more advanced system, and the use of electronic cash register.
The Commissioner Domestic Tax Department, Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Kamara noted that enforcement in the collection of revenue is ongoing and commended the Sierra Leone Police for their assistance in enforcing compliance.
He informed that NRA has accounted for about 25% growth in revenue collection which is the highest in the sub-region. He strongly advised that businesses should endeavor to pay their taxes. He said anybody who wishes to know about NRA and its operation is welcome as their books are open to both internal and external auditors.
Other speakers included the Director of Finance, Mr. Abdulai Conteh and the head of Internal Controls who said NRA has graduated from mechanic to organic system.