By Omar Bah
The Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Yankuba Darboe, yesterday told young Gambian entrepreneurs to understand that paying tax is part of contributing to national development.
Addressing a GRA tax seminar organised to sensitise members of the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce, CG Darboe urged the young entrepreneurs to pay their taxes regularly to avoid having issues with GRA.
“We are very flexible, but we will not allow people to evade taxes without being punished. It is the responsibility of the importers or businesses to make their own declarations without any interference. We only intervene when we have doubts about your disclosures,” he said.
He urged the young entrepreneurs to be good ambassadors and avoid evading taxes.
“Being a good citizen requires that you play your role effectively in nation-building. As businesses, paying your taxes on time and regularly will serve as a cornerstone in helping the government mobilise the required resources to be able to bring about the needed development for its people,” he said.
He urged all businesses and companies to take their responsibilities for paying taxes very seriously. “We don’t want to have problems with anybody. I am appealing to all of you to be good citizens and ambassadors of the GRA. Together, we can develop this country”.
He said the seminar is part of activities under Goal 2 of the GRA Corporate Strategic Plan 2020–2024, ‘optimise client service delivery for improved customer relations and corporate image’.
The seminar is centered on Gambian tax policies, the accompanying revenue laws, taxpayers’ rights and obligations, and highlights of the reform initiatives being implemented by the GRA.
“We hope that this engagement will enhance your understanding of GRA’s mandate and its operations, the significance of tax revenue in national development, and other tax administrative matters in general. You will agree with me that as members of the Youth Chamber, you are engaged in economic activities or aspiring to become entrepreneurs; therefore, it is important to understand the basic fundamentals of doing business in The Gambia, particularly in tax-related matters, to enhance compliance,” he said.
He said the authority is in the process of replacing the current domestic tax system, GAMTAXNET, with the Integrated Tax Management System (ITAS), which is more robust and earmarked to facilitate online payment and filing of tax returns.
“We expect this to significantly reduce the burden on taxpayers in the process of paying their taxes. Also, the Authority, along with other stakeholders, will soon implement the Single Window Platform that integrates all agencies involved in The Gambia’s international trade ecosystem to enhance efficiency in the clearance of goods,” he said.
He commended the ministry of finance for its support and cooperation in strengthening taxpayer education programs.
GRA’s deputy commissioner general, Essa Jallow, said the authority’s objective is to ensure taxpayers are familiar with its reform initiatives and revenue laws.
“We count on you as a very important and formidable partner in this crusade to ensure that the level of compliance in this country is improved,” he said.
The CEO of GYCC, Babucarr Kebbeh, commended the GRA for organising the training and reminded the young entrepreneurs that paying taxes serves as an opportunity for them to access financial and other opportunities in the country.
The seminar is funded under the project “Support to strengthen the capacities of national institutions responsible for economic management and evidence-based policy, planning, and budgeting to achieve inclusive growth and poverty reduction in the Gambia.”
The project also funded other engagement forums with other youth groups like MSMEs through the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) as well as key tertiary institutions.