By Mustapha Jallow and Fatoumatta Conteh
The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) on Wednesday said it is committed to taking action against businesses dodging tax obligations in the country.
According to GRA, tax collection is pristine to Gambia’s development landscape, that’s why they are not taking things lightly with businesses who are avoiding paying their taxes.
Speaking at the official opening of a 2-day engagement that brought together importers and agents from the clearing & forwarding agencies, Yankuba Darboe, Commissioner General for GRA said: “One thing that needs to be clear to everybody – everyone who does an economic activity in this country, you are supposed to pay tax. If you are hiding and not paying taxes, it is a matter of time but we will get you. And by the time we get you, you will not be happy. So, why not come forward and pay your taxes before it gets late.”
He added: “Whether you (agents) are here or not, if you are hiding there with a business activity and you are not paying your taxes, I will advise you to come-out from your hiding and pay – because if GRA should come for you, the end result will not be good. So, I want you to extend this message to those who are not here to ensure that we join our hands together and pay our fair taxes.’’
He urged the importers or clearing agents to be submitting original documents during their declarations, saying this would help improve transparency and accountability between forwarding agencies.
“We need to work with you but we want to work with you genuinely. Genuinely, in the sense that some of you (clearing agents) who are representing the importers, we expect you to be submitting original documents such as invoices, parking-list and so on. Once you submit all these during your declaration, you will not have any issue with the GRA or with Customs,’’ explained GRA’s head who doubled as chairman for West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF).
“You (clearing agents) are our partners. We would rather encourage you, than to put you in trouble. Also, we are not out there to course problems to any importer or agent but rather we want a mutual relationship that would exist between you and us,’’ he added.
According to him, the agents are there to facilitate the clearing process, while the importers are the people who import and they should be able to have the original documents, which they will hand over to their agents.
Darboe stated that with the existence of the ASYCUDA-World, importers or agents don’t even need to come to GRA but instead they can do the declaration at home through using this new web based system (ASYCUDA-world).
“As you all know, the GRA is trying to digitalize every process because it is the only way forward and in that, we don’t want to leave you behind because you are our stakeholders. The world has changed. Everybody is going digital. Therefore, I will encourage you to follow the due processes and products of what GRA is doing so that we can succeed together,’’ said Darboe.
He so asked the clearing agents to obey the rules and regulations of GRA, assuring that the agents will be recognized as the most compliant, if the rules are respected.
He said such importers or agents will also be given an opportunity to clear their goods at the ports without any delay, adding that Gambia is a tax based economy and thus urging all of them to pay their taxes.
For his part, Ismaila Jallow, the Commissioner of Customs & Excise said the GRA in line with international standards has embedded PCA in Corporate Strategic Plan 2020 to 2024 with the aim of strengthening the PCA section to conduct risk-based Post Clearance audits.
He added that post-clearance audit is also the structured examination of a trader’s relevant commercial systems. This, he talked about the processes financial and non-financial records, physical stock and other assets, as a means to measure and improve compliance.