By Omar Bah
Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Yankuba Darboe, has reiterated calls for voluntary tax compliance in the country.
Mr Darboe added that voluntary tax compliance will increase the amount of taxes collected by the authority as more resources will be directed at clamping down on defaulting tax payers.
Mr Darboe was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a two-day tax seminar for business heads, alkalolu, area councilors, NAMs and seyfolu in West Coast Region at the Governor’s Office. The GRA boss made the comments after concerns were raised over the lack of an effective voluntary tax compliance regime in The Gambia.
“The paramount objective of any tax administration is to encourage, facilitate, attain and maintain a high degree of self-assessment and voluntary compliance by taxpayers with their tax obligations,” he stated.
He said when the new government came to office they discussed with them through the Ministry of Finance, “and we have agreed that the rental income, both on commercial and residential, should come down. The commercial rental income which was15% of gross is now 10% and the residential which was 10% is now at 8%.
“We thought by doing that the compliance level will increase. What we mean by compliance level is that people do not have to wait for the GRA authorities to come and force them to go and pay their taxes. Instead they would come on voluntary basis and pay their taxes and get their correct receipts. Because as good citizens it is obligatory for all of us to make sure that when we pay taxes because that is the only way we can move this country forward.”
Mr Darboe said if citizens fail to pay their taxes, the country will be in trouble in the long run, because of donor fatigue. “So we have to start thinking of self-reliance and we can only have that if we mobilise enough revenue for the government to run actively.
Mr Darboe added: “We all know that The Gambia is a tax-based economy and as a result our government relies very much on GRA for the needed revenue. A large percentage of our economic activities in places like West Coast Region fall under the informal sector. This is why we thought it wise to organise a tax seminar of this nature.”
He said when it comes to taxation, the GRA has never relented in its efforts “because we know the task ahead of us and we are always trying to do our utmost to make sure that we collect the needed tax for the government.”
Commissioner Darboe said one of the challenges they are facing currently, particularly in the region is the issue of capital gains tax that the government should get from the sale of lands.
“We have realised that there are other people around who are pretending that they are working for GRA when in actual fact they are not and they tried to forge our stamps and other important documents to generate money in a fraudulent way. We thought that organising these seminars to educate the authorities would help to mitigate some of those negative things that are happening. We also believe the seminar will help us in the area of rental income,” he concluded.