On Tax Compliance … CERCB Dialogues with Councils
The Centre for Economic Research and Capacity Building(CERCB) held a day-long dialogue forum with representative of all the 19 local councils in Sierra Leone.
The forum was held at the Santanno House, Howe Street in Freetown on the 1st July, 2014 and focused mainly on central and local government tax compliance.
Addressing participants, the Executive Director of CERCB, Dr. Samuel S. Jibao informed that the forum was a sequel to survey on local and property taxes including market dues conducted in October, 2012. He further informed that the survey targeted 2,100 households across 21 chiefdoms in the country during which it was discovered that most of the councils are heavily dependent on central government grants, a situation, he said compels them to dance to the tune of the central government instead of the people they represent.
The survey, he went on, further revealed that there has been little trust between the councils and the people and that there has been no fairness in the imposition of property taxes as some are taxed far higher than others. Dr. Jibao also noted that the survey disclosed that many citizens are refusing to comply with tax payment because they have not been seeing tangible evidence of proper utilization of their taxes.
The survey, he added, also highlighted the late printing of local tax receipts as a major impediment to revenue collection. He encouraged the local councils to enforce tax collection but not to coerce the people to pay taxes as in the process of compelling people, he went on, the councils may violate the rights of the people and have problems with human right organizations. Dr. Jibao urged the councils to set their tax bases right and to be fair assessment of especially property tax.
As a way of making the councils self reliant and less dependent on central government, the Executive Officer recommended that the councils broaden their revenue generation base and concentrate more on home based revenue mobilization.
Chairing the forum, Emmanuel Gaima described the forum as very significant as the survival of the council depends on the issues discussed.
By Tamba Mormakoe Musa
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