By Adama Tine
The director of finance at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) Alhaji Saihou Denton, has told lawmakers that the authority’s overall internal expenses for the year ended 2019 increased to D459 million from D392 million in 2018.
Mr. Denton made this revelation before the Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly last Thursday during the presentation of the Authority’s activity and financial statements for 2018 and 2019 at the National Assembly complex.
According to him, the increase is due to augmentation and growth in the GRA’s scale of operations including vehicles, computers, human resources, tax enforcements and the development of a new strategic plan, among others.
“This is not surprising because the scale of operations has increased particularly the strategic plan activities in relation to the development of our new corporate strategic plan. We also hosted the West African Tax Administration Forum for the region and a Time Release Study was also carried out. Our staff base also increased to match the work demand. We carried out wider operations in terms of revenue collection activities which involved enforcement, media engagements, tax seminars and sensitizations,” Denton told lawmakers.
He further revealed that D38 million of the expended sum was on purchase of vehicles.
“We monitor the usage of these vehicles and systematically replace them because [vehicles] play a big part in terms of our operations,” he dilated.
When asked if the amount was not exorbitant in light of the country’s perennial budget deficits, Denton replied: “How are you gauging too much? Imagine the target of D10.7 billion and we brought D11.4 billion. So, if you express that as a percentage it is about 3%. You have to think of the correlation. You spend money to bring money. To collect that D11 billion we have to do extra, including enforcement and collection activities, radio programmes, tax seminars, among others.”
In 2019, GRA collected D11.4 billion which was 2.8% above the annual target of D10.7 billion compared to the D9.16 billion collected in 2018.
According to Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe, the increase in the authority’s revenue was as a result of rolling out a number of revenue measures which include raising the excise tax for new cars from 20% to 25%, excise tax on spirits from 15 % to 60%, and beer increased from 10% to 75%