Banjul// GAMBIA Barely ten months to go before the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) is effected, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has unveiled that plans are afoot that would ensure a massive sensitisation campaign on the implementation of the VAT law, which was recently validated by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) at a two-day conclave held at the Paradise suites hotel.
Unveiling this to stakeholders at the meeting, the Permanent Secretary (1) at the ministry of finance and economic affairs, Mod T Secka noted that “There will be a comprehensive sensitization campaign”, which he adds, will start very soon.
You all know that VAT is a comprehensive tax and it requires that all stakeholders are adequately informed about the details and expectations that the Authorities would have on tax payers, he says.
VAT has been introduced by the government of the Gambia in 2011 as part of several public financial management reforms, but it will be implemented in January 2013 to replicate the income tax and sales tax.
“Income and sales tax, which have been a major legislation on income tax have been modelled to accommodate this kind of tax [the VAT],” he says, adding that all that the meeting needs to do is to make amendments on the income and sales tax, which will become income and Value Added Taxations.
The Gambia Revenue Authority house
“Other processes that are also involved would be capacity building, because the introduction of VAT is demanding in terms of capacity. This is why capacity at the level of the GRA has to be greatly enhanced during the course of the remaining months of the year, so that they can also gear up towards the challenges that have been assigned to them by the introduction of VAT.”
Mr Secka explains that comprehensive data is a necessity that is required prior to introducing VAT.
“There are preconditions that are needed before you introduce Value Added Taxation; some of which is filing by tax payers, because you would need to have a comprehensive data base, wherein you will know each of the operators, where they are located and then you have some forms of communications to get to them when it comes to payment of taxes,” he says.
“The introduction of VAT is so demanding that it requires all hands on deck, so that we have the desired outcome come January 1st ,” he notes.
Government has undertaken several public financial management reforms; some of which have been ongoing, but the most important one would be the introduction of the VAT, which is scheduled for Jan 2013; and another one, which is the Medium Term Expenditure Framework amongst other reforms.
For the IMF resident representative, Meshack Tunee Tjirongo, recent improvements at the tax administration corridor have provided a solid foundation for successful VAT come 2013. IMF Country rep for Gambia
He pointed that efforts to ensure “filing compliance of the large tax payers” have yielded positive outcomes, resulting in the rise to 78% of would-be tax compliers; thus more than three third of tax payers are expected to comply with VAT, thanks to IMF assistance.
Bakary Sanyang, GRA commissioner general, hails the event, describing it a “historic” one. He adds that the private sector’s involvement in the validation of the VAT law does come accidentally, saying it is parts of efforts put in train to enhance public-private partnership.
Essa Jallow, Director Technical Service, GRA, chaired the meeting.
The event brought together stakeholders from both the public and privates sectors, who are the suppliers and consumers of the new tax.