Emmanuel I. Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 August 2018:
The newly appointed Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Dr. Samuel Jibao last Thursday, 16th August 2018, told reporters that under his administration as Commissioner General, NRA raises an average of fifty-one billion Leones in taxes every two days.
He made this disclosure at the weekly Government Press Briefing held at the Ministry of Information and Communications, Youyi Building in Freetown, where he updated journalists on the activities of NRA.
Dr. Jibao said that after he was appointed by president Bio and took up office on the 7th June 2018, he had embarked on a robust revenue mobilization and data cleansing exercise; and have set a target to raise twenty billion Leones every day.
This target he said has never been attained before. He added that they (NRA) have set up short and long-term programmes for robust revenue mobilization.
He said that their target is to generate more revenue for the government; and that since the Bio led government took up office, they have not received any donor support, and government has been paying salaries for all government employees from NRA generated revenue.
Dr. Jibao stated that “We now have a system which will tell me for example that we now have 2500 registered GSTs and at the end of the month I see just 1300, so we have a huge backlog according to the system.
He said that two things will be taken into consideration; do these businesses truly exist? If yes, why are they not filing returns? That’s the kind of data cleaning stuff we are currently doing.”
He noted that if you are in their system and you are not filing returns and your business is not dead, they will ensure they enforce the law and in a fair manner.
He said that the NRA is determined to achieve the target set by President Bio to contribute 20% to GDP in the next five years, compared to the past regime which was 11% contribution to GDP.
Commissioner Dr. Jibao however warned business people to stop paying their taxes directly to NRA staff. He said they must go the respective banks and make their payments and collect their receipts.
He maintained that NRA has not increased taxes on any basic food commodities, and that foods such as rice and flour are tax exempted.
He ended by assuring the business community that taxes for restaurants and supermarkets will be drastically reduced.
In a country where the revenue collection is 90 or more percent on imported items, the resultant effect is that the prices of goods will increase because for every goods tax, the consumer is the one paying.
I hope that we can turn our attention to other things that will diversified the revenue base. What if we increase our coffee, cacao, cashew nut and rice productions?
These are items that are very valuable in the world market and can bring in the necessary revenue and foreign exchange.