Finance PS speaks on controversial tax hike

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By Tabora Bojang

The permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mod Secka has responded to the deluge of criticisms from Banjul Breweries LTD and some quarters about the new tax policy.
BBL complained that the policy which hiked excise tax from 10 to 75 percent is killing their business.

They accused the finance ministry of not responding to the numerous letters of concern they wrote them on the matter.
In response, PS Secka told The Standard that inasmuch as the government is concern with the socio-economic growth of the citizens, it also has a responsibility to ensure its policies are consistent.

PS Secka, who was appointed during the latest cabinet reshuffle in March said the new tax measure was publicly announced during the Finance minister’s budget speech in parliament through a line of engagement, stating that if BBL felt disgruntled it should channel its grievance through the same line of engagement.
He added: “The government has a responsibility to ensure its policies are predictable and consistent in the medium term, and in the near future.

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Our doors are available for dialogue, but the conclusion and what decision government is going to take would not be subject to any pressure. It would only be informed by realities and what is practical but not pressure by anybody,” PS Secka warned.
He said contrary to BBL’s claims, he was not definitely privy to the knowledge of IMF being involved in telling government specifically to come up with this exercise.
“Although the IMF may propose to the government if for instance there is a need to tax excises,” he said

He said the two ministries (Finance and Trade) are engaging each other on the matter but said government is not known for introducing “something then you put somebody under pressure and remove him.”
“If they are operating and have concerns there are channels they could take them to but government also will not tolerate any sort of bullying from anybody,” he warned. He said there was a process followed when this new measures were being done, and that process has to be followed if there is any concern.

Responding to BBL’s claims that they have written several letters to both ministries expressing their fears of an imminent closure of operations, PS Secka said he has never received any correspondence from the company, admitting though that he is fairly new in the office.

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