GRA hosts Africa tax treaties forum

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Revenue Authority is hosting a three-day workshop on tax treaties.
The treaties are agreements which remove tax barriers to cross-border trade and investment, by eliminating double taxation, reducing tax rates, increasing the certainty of tax treatment, lowering compliance costs, preventing fiscal evasion, assisting in tax collection and aiding in resolution of tax disputes.
The forum is being organised by OECD and African Tax Administration Forum, ATAF to enhance member countries expertise and competencies on tax treaties.

According to tax experts, now, more than ever, African countries need to put into place efficient mechanisms and develop skills in their revenue authorities, which will allow them to deter these phenomena and improve domestic resource mobilisation.
In a report shared by ATAF, dealing with cross-border taxation issues requires enhanced tax treaty capabilities on the continent.

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And speaking at the forum, permanent secretary Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Lamin Camara reiterated the important role The Gambia Revenue Authority plays in the country’s economy.
He said double taxation avoidance treaties have become an important instrument in encouraging trade and investment across international borders.

“However, it has also created a whole new avenue for unscrupulous businesses to engage in aggressive tax planning. It is therefore, important for both tax policy makers and tax administrators to continue to develop capacity in tax agreements in order to close the loopholes in such agreements,” he stated.
Deputy Commissioner and Head of Domestic Tax of the GRA, Essa Jallow, said the forum is timely as it guides member countries work in efforts to expand treaty networks, exchange of information to strengthen tax administration capacities and secure revenue bases.

“Tax treaties if properly negotiated should deal with problems of double taxation, make our environments more attractive for inward investments and improve the business climate for all and sundry to benefit,” he suggested.

Meanwhile, the ATAF training manager, Caroline Mutayabarwa said tax avoidance, tax evasion and illicit financial flows are amongst the biggest challenges faced by African tax administrations.
“As a result, countries are losing critical revenue required to sustain their economies.”
She said it is against this backdrop that ATAF has designed a series of regional training programmes.
The ATAF is the only African organisation devoted to improving the capacities of tax administrations on the continent.

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