By Ousman A Marong
The Commissioner General of The Gambia Revenue Authority Services (GRA), Yankuba Darboe, has said that the major problem facing the country’s tax institution is voluntary tax compliance.
“Our major problem is having a voluntary tax compliance. If we have the compliance tax level high, it would make life easier for us as tax collectors at the same time government will also be happy because it generates more revenue,” Commissioner General Darboe stated.
The GRA boss has made these revelations during a seminar on tax forum on Tuesday, at Senegambia Hotel in Kololi.
According to him, the event was special as it is the first tax forum delegated to the media.
“Today’s event is special. It is the first tax education forum delegated to the media fraternity. The objective of this seminar is to share with you the tax collection revenue processes and other tax administrative matters with reference to the revenue laws,” he asserted.
The seminar is funded by the UNDP through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs under the project support to strengthen the capacity of national institutions responsible for Economic Management, Evidence Base Policy and budgeting to achieve good and poverty reduction in the Gambia.
He further revealed that the authorities are engaging other key stakeholders such as Regional authorities in business and communities.
The Deputy Commissioner General (DCG), Essa Jallow, has highlighted on the significance of the seminar, saying it would help increase the awareness of the media fraternity on the GRA’s mandate, revenue laws, the current GRA Corporate Strategic Plan 2020-2024, revenue performance trends over the years and tax administration functions, processes and procedures to list a few.
“The media as the fourth estate is an important partner in the field of advocacy and information dissemination to enhance our information sharing and outreach activities. The nature of the GRA mandate dealing with the mobilization of revenues for the State to provide public goods and services such as education, infrastructure, e.g., roads and electricity, security and health to name a few requires direct engagement with the population particularly the taxpayers in which the media can effectively serve as a link,” said Essa Jallow, the Deputy Commissioner General.
He added: “Taxation in the 21st century provides the basis for a social contract between the State and its citizens which demands that the latter provide tax revenues to the State in return for the delivery of public goods and services.”
He said in the contract, the media can provide a vital information link to inform the citizens about their duties and responsibilities but not limited to voluntary compliance with their tax obligations under the laws.
“In reciprocity, the media can also on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers hold Governments accountable in the way and manner such funds are spent for national development. The GRA Corporate Strategic Plan 2020-2024 lays emphasis on the delivery of quality services to improve customer relations and corporate image. The media has a role to play towards the realization of this goal. This is all to emphasize that the media is an indispensable partner in our quest to maximize revenue collection and provide the much needed services to our taxpayers,” he said.
He disclosed that the seminar is intended to prepare the media personnel to properly and effectively report on tax administration issues.
“It will also give you the information on the core taxes administered by GRA, the processes and procedures to be followed, the obligations of taxpayers and other compliance requirements.”
He said this is an opportunity to clarify misconceptions, deepen knowledge and understanding of the Gambian tax system for accurate reporting and meaningful contribution in the evolution and revolution of the system.
“I believe that this seminar will usher in a new wave of interest by journalists in tax matters thus leading to an increase in the coverage and regular featuring of pertinent tax issues in your pages, columns and news cast,” he posited.
Lamin Jahateh, Program Manager at the Gambia Press Union GPU who represented the President, raised the need for GRA to create many trainings for journalists. He said the training would go a long way to help journalists in informing the public on the importance of taxation with need to inform them on salient tax laws and information as it is too technical.
“We urge the GRA to provide adequate training program for the media as the one day seminar is not sufficient to discuss all the 10 tax mandates that the authority administers,” he concludes.