NRA impresses President Koroma
The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has stated during the state opening of parliament on 8th October, 2010, that we are as a nation, ‘increasing revenues by broadening the tax base…’ and this he said is happening through the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, ‘and tackling tax evasion and avoidance through the introduction of the Automated System of Custom Data (ASYCUDA), and tax payer identification numbers…’ (Photo: Haja Kallah Kamara, Acting Commissioner General, NRA)
Speaking on the nation’s economy during the state opening of Parliament, President Koroma said the aim of his government has always been to simultaneously maintain macro-economic stability, increase revenues, improve international confidence in the management of the economy, promote investment and re-align government expenditure in favor of infrastructural development and that ‘we have been largely successful in achieving our aim. In spite of the global economic downturn, our economy grew at double the average growth rate for Africa as a whole. IMF and our own figures indicate a rebound of economic activities and further growth this year…’
The President went further to state, that in the first half of 2010, GST collections amounted to Le98.5 billion, far in excess of the amount collected for the whole of 2009 from the previous seven taxes replaced by the GST.’… Our reforms in the tax collection system have enabled the Government to increase Sierra Leone’s revenue collection effort to 11.7% of GDP in 2009 and it is expected to reach 13% this year….’
The introduction of ASYCUDA early this year is seen as a milestone in the development of the National Revenue Authority. This System of Customs’ procedures and processes ensures a fast way of clearing goods from the quay and also leads to improvement in the revenues collected by the Customs and Excise Department of the NRA.
In terms of revenues collected by the NRA, in 2009, there was a target of Le 668,343 billion and the NRA collected Le 700,328 billion and this was not withstanding the global meltdown that the world experienced. In 2010, there was an initial target of 888.960 billion Leones. This target has been increased to 930 billion and latest figures indicate, over 600 billion Leones has been collected as of September this year. An official of the NRA said, this target will be met since ‘the NRA has a committed leadership that wants to see the growth of this country…’
At present, plans are underway for the introduction of the Domestic Taxes Department (DTD) by next year. This will see the Income Tax and Goods and Services Tax Departments being brought under one umbrella. This, according to the official quoted above ‘is not a new tax but an administrative change from within the NRA. The DTD structure is going to be functional-based and aimed to harmonise operations, streamline accountability, strengthen functional and interdepartmental linkages and promote transparency & objectivity and also will lead to revenue enhancement & efficiency in delivery of taxpayer services. Investigations indicate, this, move is in line with IMF Recommendations and also in line with the NRA Modernization Plan, under its Domestic Taxes reform component.
President Koroma also spoke of the progress he has made over the years especially by ‘increasing domestically funded capital spending from Le42.5 billion in 2007 to Le206.8 billion in 2010 as at the end of September’. He however cautioned that sustaining this process requires vigorous mobilization of resources by Sierra Leoneans. He therefore encouraged all that ‘we must pay our taxes…’
Reacting to the President’s statement on the NRA, Chernor Kamara, a business man at Kissy said, ‘it is good, that the NRA has continued to perform, not just to the expectation of government but Sierra Leoneans as well… this even should encourage NRA officials, especially its leadership to continue with the good work so that we can attain economic independence… In fact, if you also look at the President’s statement, he revealed that since his election in 2007, his government has increased spending on infrastructure and other capital projects from under Le180 billion to over Le450 billion on a new development agenda. This is because an institution like the NRA has been collecting enough revenue for the government’, said Chernor Kamara of Kissy.
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