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TAX TRIBUNAL COMMISSIONED

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To hear defaulters and evaders cases

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By Omar Bah

The Ministry of Finance in partnership with the Gambia Revenue Authority has yesterday commissioned the expected Tax Tribunal to deal with tax cases as part of its intensive debt collection drive and prosecution of defaulters.

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A Ghanaian judge, Justice George Appah Kwabeng who is appointed as president of the Tribunal, was sworn-in alongside Bakary Sanyang, Lamin S Jatta, Mamour Joof and Sheriff Kumba Jobe.

The Tribunal has the power to review and deliberate on matters determined by the Tax Administration Act or any other law to be adjudicated by the Tribunal. It also has the power to summon persons, elicit witness statements, obtain proof and evidence or do anything necessary to verify and elicit the truth of a matter submitted to it.

Minister of Finance Seedy Keita said the Tax Tribunal is a testament of the government’s commitment to fostering a tax environment that values justice, efficiency, and the protection of taxpayers’ rights. “The establishment of the tax Tribunal represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to provide an effective and accessible avenue for addressing taxpayer grievances. We recognise the importance of a dispute resolution mechanism that not only upholds the principles of justice but also instills confidence in our citizens that their concerns are heard and addressed impartiality by an independent body,” he said. He said a Tax Tribunal plays a crucial role in the taxation system of the country.

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“It is an important body entrusted with the responsibility of hearing and determining tax disputes. By doing so, it ensures a fair and unbiased resolution of tax disputes between taxpayers and GRA. This is a fundamental aspect of a just and equitable taxation system, and the Tax Tribunal will play a pivotal role in upholding these principles,” he said.

Minister Keita urged members of the Tax Tribunal to approach their duty with diligence, impartially, and a commitment to upholding the principles of justice.

“As the Minister of Finance, I assure you that the government is committed to providing the necessary support for the proper functioning of the Tribunal. This includes both financial and logistical support to ensure that the Tribunal has the resources it needs to carry out it is duties efficiently. We believe that an effective tax dispute resolution mechanism is not only in the interest of taxpayers but also integral to the overall economic well-being of our nation,” he said. He argued that the establishment of the Tax Tribunal is not merely a bureaucratic addition but a declaration of intent. “We are a government that is committed to fairness, transparency, and the rule of law,” he added.

The Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority, Yankuba Darboe, said the Tax Tribunal is established under section 256 of the Income and Value Added Tax Act to hear applications for review of reviewable decisions made by the Commissioner General or officers acting under his authority.

“The establishment of a Tax Tribunal under our laws is aimed at providing an avenue for taxpayers to not only challenge the tax assessments of GRA but also to offer taxpayers an independent avenue to seek redress on taxation decisions made by the Authority,” he said.

Darboe added that the appointment of members of the Tax Tribunal is a “crucial component of the government’s commitment to building a fair, transparent and a just taxation system that ensures that taxpayers pay their fair share of the tax burden but at the same time are not to pay more than their fair share of the tax burden,” he said.

He commended the finance minister for his continuous support over the years and for his commitment towards the proper functioning of the Tax Tribunal.

“The journey to bring the Tax Tribunal into effective operation has been marred with challenges. However, through dedication and collaborative efforts, we have overcome these obstacles culminating in this inauguration ceremony today. It will no doubt contribute significantly to the enhancement of our tax administration system,” he stated.

He said GRA is fully committed to supporting the Tax Tribunal in every possible way, adding the role of the Tribunal is not only to decide disputes between GRA and taxpayers but also to contribute to the continuous improvement of our tax system.

Addressing members of the Tribunal, CG Darboe said: “Your selection to serve the Tax Tribunal is testament to your knowledge, expertise, integrity and commitment to upholding the principles of justice and fairness in our tax administration system. I have full confidence that you will give it your best.”

The president of the Tribunal, Justice George Appah Kwabeng, urged the Ministry of Finance to provide them a neutral venue for their hearings to boost the confidence of taxpayers.

“For logistical support to facilitate our work and other tools necessary for the successful running of the Tribunal. To be specific, a designated secretariat with the full complement of administrative staff to receive and process applications and a secretary to record minutes and compile same for public scrutiny, would be among our topmost priority as a newly formed Tribunal,” he said. 

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