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Barrow assures business community of enabling environment at tax award ceremony

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By Omar Bah

President Adama Barrow has assured the country’s business community of his government’s commitment to create the enabling environment for them to thrive.

Addressing the Gambia Revenue Authority’s fifth annual taxpayer award, President Barrow said: “I assure you that government will meet its obligation of creating the enabling environment and fiscal space for the private sector to thrive. Consider this as an assurance from my government to the private sector.”

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He also hailed the country’s taxpayers as the drivers of the government’s development programmes.

“Your contributions are utilised to provide vital services, such as education, public safety, healthcare, infrastructure, and much more. Indeed, your support to the well-being and prosperity of our country is essential. So tonight, I express deep gratitude to you on behalf of all citizens of The Gambia,” he told a packed Jaamma Hall at the Kairaba Beach Hotel Saturday.

The president further disclosed that since his administration came into office in 2017, GRA’s total revenue receipt grew significantly from about D8 billion to almost D12.8 billion in 2022, representing more than sixty (60) percent increase. In the same period, the average monthly revenue collection also grew significantly from D664 million in 2017 to D1.06 billion in 2022.

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“The growth in tax revenue is the result of a sound government policy to expand the country’s tax base and tighten the loop-holes in our national tax collection system. At the centre of my government’s fiscal policy, is the conviction that our economic prosperity as a country should hinge on expanding the tax base and leveraging technology, rather than interfering with the tax codes. Consequently, this policy position aims to improve the fiscal space and enhance trade facilitation for the private sector to succeed,” Barrow said.

In 2022, President Barrow added, the government spent over D1.6 billion as fuel subsidy.

“Although it provided the much-needed relief for the Gambian people, over D1.6 billion of tax revenue was forgone by the government to make fuel internally affordable during the crisis. The money could have been spent on development projects,” he reminded the gathering.

Despite the global economic challenges in 2022, he went on, domestic revenue surpassed international trade receipts for the first time since the creation of GRA with domestic revenue contributing 51.2 percent of GRA collection in 2022.  He said this successful revenue performance is a direct result of the innovative strategies implemented of late, “one of them, the use of modern technology systems while another is the streamlining of the tax collection process.” “These initiatives have improved efficiency and made it easier for citizens to comply with their tax obligations, thus reducing tax fraud and tax evasion,” the president said.

He said while it is the obligation of every citizen and entity to shoulder their fair share of the tax burden, it is also laudable to recognise and commend those taxpayers that went the extra mile to fulfil their obligations. “They have taken up and fulfilled a huge responsibility, making it quite fitting and an encouragement that we acknowledge and recognise their efforts. I direct this message at all taxpayers, with due recognition to those present,”  Barrow said. 

The GRA Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe said: “Taxes are the grease that oils the government machinery and without it, the government can do little. As a revenue administration, our primary mandate is to collect all revenues due to the government in a fair and transparent manner, and to ensure that the government receives adequate revenue to fund its operations to enable it to provide essential services to the Gambian people. GRA is therefore central in the government’s domestic revenue mobilization drive” .

He said despite the global economic challenges, GRA, in the 2022 financial year collected the sum of D12.78 billion, exceeding the target, by 0.3%.

“This revenue performance represents a marginal growth of 0.3% over the 2021 revenue performance. Perhaps the most positive event of the 2022 revenue performance was the fact that the domestic taxes department accounted for 51.2% of the total revenue collection, for the first time since the establishment of GRA. This is indeed a great achievement in our domestic revenue mobilisation drive. This performance by the domestic taxes department is evidence that the policies and strategies put in place by the government to expand the tax base and close loopholes are indeed bearing fruits,” he added.

CG Darboe said the success that GRA continues to register year after year is largely because of the cordial and supportive relationship that exists between them and the ministry of finance.

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