May 9, 2014, 10:36 AM
As proceedings continue at the newly established Commission of Inquiry into Tax Evasion and Corrupt Practices, more lawyers and the assistant Registrar General at the Attorney General’s Chambers Friday appeared before the commission.
Ebou Badjie, the assistant registrar general, and lawyers Ida Drammeh, Amie Bensouda, Janet Sallah-Njie, Fola Allen, Omar Bun Mbye, and Joseph Joof all appeared before the commission which is chaired by Justice Mama Singhateh assisted by two other members.
Among other things, they all shed light on the payment of their sales tax, personal income tax as well as “pay as you earn taxation.”
Established in November 2011 by President Yahya Jammeh, the commission of inquiry looks into tax evasion and other corrupt practices of accountants, legal practitioners, companies, and private persons, medical practitioners and institutions required to pay tax to the Gambia Revenue Authority.
The commission was also mandated, among other things, to ascertain the extent of loss of public revenue resulting from non-payment of capital gains tax, personal income tax and sales tax; and to determine the role of individuals, groups and professional bodies in the evasion and avoidance of tax.
It will also enquire into professional malpractice by members of the public as it relates to obtaining goods through widespread issuance of false and dud cheques and other malpractices by members of professional bodies as these have affected foreign direct investment in The Gambia.
Lawyer Ida Drammeh told the commission, among other things, about her qualifications; enrolment to the bar, as well as her payment of taxes. She was called to the bar in 1980 and joined the practice the same year.
The lawyer told the commission that she was aware of her obligation to the state in paying her taxes, adding that she has been paying her taxes up to date
She produced the receipts of payment of sales tax; personal income tax, as well as ‘pay as you earn tax,’ including her returns.
The state representative at the commission, Morris Agaigh, applied to tender the said receipts before the commission, and they were all marked.
Asked what recommendation she has for the commission, lawyer Drammeh said everybody should be reminded of paying taxes and tax collectors should keep records and increase awareness campaign on taxes, as many people do not know what tax to pay.
Amie Bensouda said she was called to the Bar in 1981, adding that she worked for the government up to 1995, when she proceeded to private practice.
She said she has been paying her taxes, and showed the commission the receipts of her payments, also informing the commission of the payments she made by cheque.
Receipts of Mrs Bensuoda’s personal income tax from 1999 to November 2011, her sales tax receipts from 1999 to September 2011, as well as pay as you earn tax receipts from 2006 to November 2011 were admitted and marked by the commission.
She recommended to the commission to widen their advocacy campaign for people to know what tax they should pay, and why they are paying tax.
Fola Allen said she was called to the Bar in 1981, adding that she worked at the Attorney General’s Chambers from 1983 to 2004.
She said she started private practice in 2009, adding that she was assessed for 2009 which she paid, and showed the commission receipts of payments, which were accepted and marked.
She said she was not yet assessed for 2011, but was assessed in 2010 and was yet to make payment.
Lawyer Alhaji Omar Bun Mbye said he was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1980 and in the same year in The Gambia.
He said he worked at the Justice Ministry from 1980 to 1985 before proceeding to work at the defunct Gambia Commercial and Development Bank, and then for AMRC from 1994 to 1995, when he retired from service.
Lawyer OB Mbye told the commission that he had a file which he for his tax documents, which he stopped using by 2003/4 since when he has not touched it. “I have been searching for my receipts, but to no avail.” He said he went to the income tax office to enquire about the payments he made.
Joseph Joof said he is a legal practitioner who was called to the Bar of England in 1986 and started practice in 1990.
“I have receipts of payment of my sales tax, from 1999 to 2010, as well as income tax from 1999 to 2010,” he said. The said receipts were admitted and marked by the commission.
He told the commission that he has been paying his employee’s tax, and would make the receipts available to the commission at a later date.
Lawyer Janet Sallah Njie said she was called to the Bar in 1990, and started active practice in 2003.
She showed the commission receipts of payment of her income and sales tax, which were tendered and admitted by the commission.
The assistant registrar general, Ebou Badjie, who represented the Registrar General, told the commission that their responsibilities at the office of the Registrar General included, among others, registering landed properties transfers, adding that they deal directly with the public.
He showed the commission, which summoned the Registrar General to produce documents, the register from 1999 to 2011.
“I have Kombo deeds from 1999 to 2011 and provincial deeds from 1997 to 2011,” he said before the commission.
Commission chairperson Justice Mama Singhateh reminded all that the commission has the right to call witnesses whenever it deemed necessary.
Sittings of the commission at the high court premises in