Thousands of businesses to benefit from electronic cash registers in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 October 2020:

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, on Monday commissioned five thousand Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) which will be rolled out immediately across hotels and supermarkets in the country.

The National Revenue Authority (NRA) last week, held a five-day technical training for stakeholders and business owners on the features of the ECR and how to use them.

In his address, the Finance Minister said that the widespread use of the ECR devices in tax collection is a commitment made by the New Direction Government of President Julius Maada Bio, in order to ensure transparency in business transactions and the efficient and fair collection of taxes by the NRA.

Speaking about the cost of the ECR rolling out project, the Minister (Photo: JJ Saffa) said that the five thousand ECRs and service level terms and conditions, cost approximately Five Million Dollars which he said is far less than the $10 Million Dollars controversially spent by the previous government on printing GST tax receipts.

But analysts are questioning the $5 million cost of 5,000 cash registers, which at a unit cost of $300 should bring the total cost to $1.5 million.

What  is the remaining $3.5 million spent on? Is this the cost of installing and servicing the ECRs?

Who are the suppliers of the ECRs? Are they Sierra Leoneans? Did the minister go out to public tender to ensure value for money and transparency?

Minister Saffa called on taxpayers to ensure the ECR machine is used at all sales transactions and that they receive receipts, so as make reconciliation and monitoring of taxes easier for the NRA. He added that any attempt by any business or individual to tamper with the ECR or issue manual receipts, will face the full force of the law.

Dr. Samuel S. Jibao, Commissioner-General of the NRA, said that the idea of introducing ECR in taxation came about in 2018 through the initiative of the Financial Secretary, Sahr L. Jusu.

He said that businesses have been using manual GST receipts to under value their tax return, but with every transaction that is done with the ECR, a receipt is generated that will enable the NRA to know exactly how much tax the business should pay.

He commended the Government for funding seventy-percent of the project costs.

Dr. Jibao said that the NRA’s Integrated Tax Administration System, and its Single Window under the ASYCUDA, are there to improve business transactions while giving access to internal monitors to track tax records through system-generated receipts.

He commended the African Development Bank for their technical support in ensuring the successful implementation of the ECR project.

The African Development Bank (ADB), Project Coordinator, Felitisa Atanga, said that ADB has committed US$ 1.4 million dollars to the NRA through technical support for the implementation of the ECR project. He said that an International consultant was recently contracted for one year for the installation and rollout of the ECR across businesses.

Harris Agnani, representative of the business committee, welcomed the implementation of the ECR but also called on the NRA to not only focus on supermarkets or restaurants but retail outlets also.

The Minister of Trade and Industry said that the ECR is not an attack on businesses whom he said the government has a responsibility to protect, but some businesses have been deducting GST from customer transactions and failing to pass it on to the NRA.

10 Comments

  1. My brother Med Sillah, your commentary are right on the money. Since this regime came into power, we have witnessed one ill-conceived policy after another, with absolutely no dividends almost 3 years into governance. In an impoverish nation such as ours, with over 70% of those doing businesses classified as street hacker/vendors, spending $5 million on a few machines that will capture business transactions seems a futile venture.

    The fact remains, unlike the developed nations where electronic business transactions are the order of the day, here in Sierra Leone, 99% of all business transactions are done in physical cash. So unless the NRA will hire special agents to sit by each cash register they have handed over to the these businesses for the monitoring of each business transaction, exactly what will stop a hotel or restaurant owner to beat the system, especially so when almost all these businesses never tender receipts to their customers?

    Now let’s assume a few of them have chosen to use these registers on an occasional basis, the question is, how exactly does the government intend to keep stock or monitor these business transactions electronically in the absence of a centralised monitoring system? Will the businesses even be willing to be subjected to constant monitoring by the central government of all their daily transactions? Forgive me but I might be a novice in this tax system, however, I found it highly questionable for a government to be procuring cash registers for private businesses.

  2. The concept of government providing cash registers to businesses is one that has its pitfalls starting with the cost and possible replacement when they are obsolete. Businesses can also chose not to use them by offering customers a discount with alternative receipts. I hope this is not another failed procurement like the central bank Oracle system. The benefits of this roll out will become clearer with time and I hope it will be worth it otherwise I will be expecting resignation or sacking for spending such huge amounts recklessly.

  3. Americans always believe that the only guarantee in life is DEATH and TAXES. Taxes is the main revenue for the government of the USA and tax dodging is one of the worst crime any citizen can commit which I personally believe is the reason they have more reserves than most countries.

    The emphasis and seriousness that the New Direction Government is implementing is positive which if properly collaborated with the ACC will continue to transform our economy. I also hope that some of the big businesses that are employing our citizens will have some tax breaks and at the end of every year, some taxpayers are entitled to tax returns by filing taxes.

    • Mr. Fallay that is a nice topic. I hope this could start happening for all hard working Sierra Leoneans in the country. Especially from the Military, police and all (LEOs) Law enforcement officers, including doctors, nurses, immigration officers, school teachers and the University professors. The fishermen, bankers etc, now my question is as follows in what method are all these hard working people receiving their salaries?. We don’t even know what taxes, can someone teach us about tax?

      I love the American system of managing their country’s economy, especially how the internal revenue operates. In our country many of us receive our salaries in cash. So how can I file my tax return at the end of the calendar year? This is 21st century if I ain’t mistaking. May God continue to prosper my country Sierra Leone that I love so dearly. Also protect its leaders

    • I hate to hear people comparing one of the world’s largest economy with that of Sierra Leone’s nanobe economy, which is struggling to survive the economic tsunami or hurricanes of modern times. With COVID-19 flexing its disastrous and damaging economic muscles that comes with it, it is ridiculous that people are comparing our economy with that of the US.

      Let the Bio SLPP kakistocracy clear up the economic mess and put a comprehensive post COVID-19 support plan, before people start comparing our economy with that of our two neighbors. First things First. Did they hear and get the message loud and clear? I hope they do. God help our ailing and sinking economy.

  4. Thank you very much Dr. Emmanuel Johnson, well said; Dr. doesn’t write so long a letter (Mariama Bah, Ibadan). But with one line of sentence a wise man can understand the rest. May God protect our mama Sa/Lone

  5. Good job! Now we are moving in the direction long-awaited. Now install servers linking these ECRs for duplicate receipts, so that the systems are not circumvented.

  6. From a business perspective, rolling out cash registers is a welcome development. It makes for a speedy transaction, and keeping track of records, and receipts. And is beneficial to both the traders and customers alike. It will reduce queuing times in business premises and keep customers happy. Also businesses will be able to keep track of their value added tax receipts, which in turn will make it easier for the NRA to go through the records, to see for themselves, the actual number of tax revenue paid by businesses to government coffers. If everything works well, duplication of receipts will be thing of the past.

    It will be much easier to find and hold Corrupt individuals in the NRA accountable, when ever they are subjected to the national auditing process. Notwithstanding the benefits, why is this Bio government that has made their mission to cut government waste, but when it comes to dishing out government tenders, his government is always happy to pay through the nose what ever the cost. Majority of corruption cases that are being highlighted by the ACC is one way or the other connected to government tenders. Some times goods are paid for at inflated prices, but never delivered.

    But no government official is held to account. They always seem to be passing the buck of blame around. I know the ACC has enough in their plate, but its about time they turn the spotlight on Bio’s government ministries. Two years into his government we are still waiting for the delivery of the bread and butter issues that affect families up and down the country. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  7. Here we go again – another brazen robbery and plundering of our little nation’s meagre monetary resources, another evil SLPP fleecing scheme designed and crafted by the most dubious, spurious Finance Minister Sierra Leone has ever seen. Gentlemen, here’s the bad news: a shady President and a cruel, unskilled, inefficient “Hangman” with a financial noose have nothing of substance to offer the struggling masses of our beloved nation but endless headaches and hardships that stem directly from their gross inabilities to clearly identify priorities, and most pressing needs and keep them capably and meritoriously in order.

    Hey! Honest people are straight shooters – they are always trustworthy, sincere and forthright from the get-go, and they never ever speak with a twisted, crooked, suspicious tongue that changes like the seasons that come and go, or like the pale skin of chameleons disguising themselves from fear of predators. Honest people will never tell you a thing costs 5 million dollars when it is actually much more less than that. Bandits with no conscience at all, remorselessly robbing an already crippled financial system and making away with an easy loot of 3.5 million that could have been resourcefully used to build affordable housing units for the disabled, homeless and poorest of the poor among us.

    When will this sleeping nation arise and quit ignoring the needs of the most vulnerable among us? Now is the time for the puppet ACC to prove to us that they are serious in their ostensible fight against corruption by taking a much deeper and closer look at this shady deal that these tribalists, Saffa and Jusu are trying to sell without breaking a sweat to the gullible unsuspecting people of Sierra Leone. The SLPP cabal have made themselves into shadowy bosom friends with act deceits, lying and rampant thefts (lol) A damn shame, they are only out for gain, ignoring the pain of a helpless people that keeps on hustling, bustling and struggling in vain.

    • My friend Stargazer, democracy is achieved in strides. No one can achieve it all in one sitting. With corruption being the order of the day in Freetown, I see why trusting your government can be a far-reaching phenomenon.

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