Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 May 2018:
Serious questions are today being asked as to whether the current NRA leadership can continue in office, given its strong political affiliation with the opposition APC party, for which it had helped to campaign at the recently concluded 2018 elections.
But perhaps what is even more serious, are the growing calls for investigations into the running of the NRA, including allegations of corruption and malfeasance.
The National Revenue Authority (NRA) was established in 2002 by the SLPP government of president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, through the National Revenue Authority 2002 Act, to bring under one authority, the collection of taxes, duties, fines, license fees, etc. (Photo: Ms Haja Kallah Kamara – Head of NRA).
Before the establishment of the NRA, respective departments and agencies, such as Customs and Excise Department, Income Tax Department, Government Gold and Diamond Office and several other MDAs managed these revenue streams.
But corruption, bribery and wastage meant that very little revenue was paid into the government’s coffers by these respective bodies.
Although the collection of revenue for the government has marginally increased year on year since the formation of the NRA, the institution has faced constant criticisms for its inability to stand up against ministerial interference in its work, and its politicisation – including the authorisation and granting of tax waivers to those close to the APC party and their friends and families.
Various reforms have led to the restructuring and consolidation of the NRA services to help improve its performance.
But allegations of corruption and politicisation continued, amid growing calls for leadership change.
Successive Auditor General reports have expressed dissatisfaction with the running of the NRA, and made recommendations for improvement, many of which are yet to be fully implemented, although the management of NRA believes otherwise.
Critics of the NRA chief – Ms Haja Kallah Kamara, say that her open support for the opposition APC party, of which she is a grand chief patron, has compromised her ability to demonstrate impartiality and independence as head of the NRA, after being seen dressed in the party’s colours campaigning at the recently concluded elections. They say her position is untenable.
Today, the ministry of finance is holding the NRA leadership accountable for a total of Sixteen Billion Leones, which the ministry says is money owed to the government. There are allegations that billions of Leones had gone missing from the NRA accounts.
This is the statement from the ministry of finance published today: