• February 13, 2020

Collect the People’s Tax Now or You Seek Replacement

Collect the People’s Tax Now or You Seek Replacement
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By Joseph A. Kamanda

The National Revenue Authority (NRA) is one of the state agencies charged with the responsibility of collecting revenue for and on behalf of government as legitimately mandated by the NRA Act 2000, irrespective of which political party is in governance such task must not be compromise against national interests as it is being done now, wherein only selected few private and public entities pay their taxes while others evade subscriptions with impunity.

All of which unlawfully taking place under the watchful eyes of Commissioner-General Dr Samuel Jibao, backed by the Finance Ministry and the government as a whole, when in fact president Julius Maada Bio promised to blockages all financial leakages. This is the more reason why the people’s tax must be collected now without fear or favour since the said leakages have been blocked, or the chief collector, Dr Jibao calls for his immediate replacement at the commission. These were the thing president Bio preached before coming to office and they must be seen put into full actions and at the same time getting rid of all none performers from his administration, of which the NRA chief Dr Jibao is no exemption.

So far if we are to talk of a sustainable revenue mobilization for the state through tax collections then we must immediately urge Dr Jibao at the NRA to measure up to his tasks as mandated by laws of the authority, rather than just serving as an arm-chair tax collector and receives salaries at the end of every from tax payers moneys for doing absolutely nothing.

Dr Jibao’s led NRA failures to collect revenues from private and public institutions is totally unacceptable especially so when he continue to earns huge amount of money as salary from the consolidate revenue funds whiles the state continue to lose more than Sixty-Two Billion Leones (Le. 62bn) to tax evaders through neglect of duties by the Commissioner-General of NRA and team. These failures were recently observed by the Anti-Corruption Commission while reacting to the Auditor Service 2018 Report, at a press conference held in Freetown, lawyer Francis Ben Kaifala exposed to weaknesses of NRA and its entire team in the mobilization of revenues for and on behalf of the state.

Under Dr Jibao as head of NRA, public agencies such as the National Minerals Agency is enjoying tax evasion to the tune of over ‘Three Hundred Million Leones (Le. 300,000,000.00) from personal pay as you earn’, while so many private entities including mobile company operators are no exemption of tax fraud evasions being condoned by the authority’s leadership for personal gains, inside sources clued NightWatch.

These amounting to over Le 62bn, are major financial losses incurred by government due to failures by NRA to collect taxes from evaders in private and public institutions simply because the chief collector Dr Jibao compromised his functions.

ACC by law mandates the authority to collect revenue for and on behalf of the state, a function that seems to be largely underperformed under the hegemony of Dr Jibao, whereas, his predecessor, Haja Kala Kamara who used to collect billions of Leones for the last administration was later labeled as ‘corrupt’ by the politically motivated anti graft agency and Ben Kaifala, with the hope that their own Dr Jibao would make the expected differences at the authority, only to come and proved himself worse than Kala Kamara.

Dr Jibao came in with vengeance, fired staff as well as so many tax experts that were recruited by the last administration and replaced them with ruling party supporters and members in the name of ‘this is our time’ politics, leavening the authority largely understaffed with little or no capacities to deliver on the much needed revenue collection job at the NRA.

Having rendered the authority inefficient with untrained and unqualified staff recruited based on their various tribal, ethnic, regional and political lines, deliberately failed to deploy the right personnel at the right to collect taxes where, when and how as against efforts of his predecessors of previous administrations.

NRA under the then Commissioner-General Haja Kala Kamara recorded significant gains in revenue mobilizations during the last administration with the collections of funds to the tune of billions of Leones, which were somehow better utilized for the general good of every Sierra Leonean. Now it is the exact opposite under his leadership as commissioner, and the higher the taxes the lower revenue mobilized and collected by the NRA, which must be a huge shame on the part of Dr Jibao and his new team of incompetent party supporters. Dr Jibao in 2016 accused the last All People’s Congress (APC) Koroma administration of financial wattages. And now in the seat of state revenue collections can’t deliver on his terms of references and one would want to know how fair Dr Jibao’s researcher reports on financial losses to the state were under the last government.

NRA sources range from income taxes, Goods and Services Taxes the list is long but has in the last twenty two months plus under the administrative leadership of a pro-ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party Commissioner-General falls below public expectations as recently underscored by the ACC’s Kaifala who could not compromise the inefficiency of the authority but publically exposed NRA’s incompetence to journalists at one of his news conferences at the ACC headquarters in Freetown.

That means, lawyer Kaifala does not seems to be happy and satisfied with the poor performance of the NRA in revenue mobilization through tax collections, which is why he made it abundantly clear that based on finding projected by the Auditor General’s 2018 report, the NRA is not up to its task despite publicities about financial prudence in the present administration. He said those losses of huge sum of money from government must be accounted for by somebody else.

Government recently increased taxes on almost everything including food stuffs fuel and other essential commodities which are in turn are now adversely affecting every aspect of living standards of the people, local and direct foreign investments and businesses everywhere in the country.

High taxes collected by NRA and other tax collecting agencies are affecting businesses and livelihoods everywhere as they are being blamed on high cost of livings. Thus if at all the chief tax collectors is not up to the task then he must be replaced now before things continue to worse. But the people’s tax must be collected now!

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