By Omar Bah
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in partnership with the Gambia Revenue Authority Friday signed a concession agreement with SICPA SA, a Swiss company, for the implementation of a revenue mobilisation solution for excisable goods, telecoms services and refined fuels.
The agreement signed at the Ministry of Finance is part of the reform priorities in the GRA’s corporate strategy plan 2020-2024.
Speaking shortly after signing the agreement, the Minister of Finance, Seedy Keita said GRA, government, the business community and by extension the public will benefit from its implementation.
“The full implementation of this solution will give GRA among other things access to accurate real-time or near real-time production data of locally produced excisable goods; differentiate between illicit and genuinely imported excisable goods; provide revenue assurance on taxes and levies being collected from telecom services; and distinguish genuinely imported fuel products from illicit fuel through fuel marking,” he said.
Minister Keita added that in terms of benefit to the government, the introduction of the revenue mobilisation solutions will be “a game changer in terms of revenue collection which will go a long way to support government development programmes”.
“For industries, the stamping of their products will distinguish them from both fake illicit products and protect their market share from unfair competition from fake and illicit products. The public will gain through the consumption of genuinely imported and locally produced excisable goods, minister Keita stated. He said as part of requirements, the government is required to put in place the necessary laws and regulations that will facilitate the smooth implementation of the solution.
Also, commenting on the benefits of the agreement, the GRA Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe said: “The benefits of this solution touches all actors of the economy – For producers, it helps monitor their market share as it serves as a major deterrent to smuggling and dumping of substandard products thus encouraging fair competition, while for consumers it will ensure quality assurance as all products consumed within the country will be tested for quality and validated through a digital tax stamp.”
He said on the side of the government, the agreement will combat tax evasion and further inform the government on the size of the economy through improved data quality for policy making and planning and enhance visibility of economic activities in the telecoms and manufacturing industries.
“On public health, the solution will help ensure authentication of products and hence deter the influx of fake and unhealthy products in the country, as consumers with the help of a GR scanner will be able to authenticate that the product consumed is genuinely imported/produced and has paid all the relevant taxes to the state. It will also increase visibility for tax administration which enhance revenue performance to fund critical government priorities and improve data quality to guide policy reforms,” he added.