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Former Chief Justice at Tax Commission

Dec 13, 2011, 1:39 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Former Chief Justice Abdou Karim Savage and other legal practitioners yesterday came before the tax commission sitting at the high court premises in Banjul.

Hawa Sisay-Sabally, Bola Carrol, Omar MM Njie, Mary Abdoulie Samba Christensen, all legal practitioners, as well as officials of Databank and Deloite & Touché Associates, gave evidence during yesterday’s sitting of the commission.

Established in November 2011, 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.

Bola Carrol, a legal practitioner for 21 years, told the tax commission that he got enrolled to both the Gambian and Nigerian bar in 1990, adding that he also worked at the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Carrol told the commission that he went into private practice in October 1992 adding, “I have been paying my taxes since 1995/6 and my staff strength is two people.

“I have paid my personal income tax, sales tax and pay as you earn tax (known as PAYE).

He showed the commission the receipts of payments including for sales tax from 1999 to 2011, personal income tax from 1998 to 2011 and PAYE tax from 2004 to 2011.

The state representative at the commission, Mr. Morris, applied to tender the said documents, which were admitted and marked by the chairperson of the commission, Justice Mama Singhateh.

Hawa Sisay-Sabally recalled that she was called to the bar in 1990 and started legal practice in 1991 at the AG’s Chambers, and once served as Secretary of State for Justice.

She told the commission that she paid her sales and personal income taxes, as well as PAYE up to date.

She showed the commission her receipts of payment, which included personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, sales tax from 1999 to the third quarter of 2011 and PAYE tax from 2004 to 2011, which were admitted by the commission.

She recommended to the commission that tax laws should be harmonized because they are many Acts on taxation, and there was a need to look into and harmonized these Acts; and also to build the capacity of tax collectors to ensure compliance.

She urged massive sensitization of the citizenry about the different types of taxes, adding that the tax deposit before registering a business is discouraging investors.

She also recommended drafting local statutes rather than relying on others.

Omar MM Njie said he is a legal practitioner, who was called to the bar of England in 1991 and The Gambia the same year, adding that he briefly worked at the AG’s Chambers.

He started active practice in November 1993, adding, “I have always endeavored to pay my taxes.”

Njie showed the commission the receipts of payment of his sales tax from 1999 to 2011; personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, as well as his “PAYE.”

Mary Abdoulie Samba Christensen, said she was called to the bar of England in 1991 and in Gambia in May 1992, adding that she opened her own chambers in 1995.

She told the three-member commission that other than legal practice, she is into business too.

“I always do my best to pay my taxes,” she said, adding, “I have receipts of my payment of sales tax from 1999 to 2011, personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, as well as employer’s tax.”

Her receipts were marked by the commission.

A former Chief Justice, Abdou Karim Savage, was also at the commission, which he informed that he was called to the bar in 1999 and worked at the AG Chambers. He told the commission that he did not practise, since he was removed from office as Chief Justice of the Gambia.

“I don’t have any chamber, but render legal services from 2010 to 2011,” he said.

His income tax receipts for 2010 to 2011 were marked.

Olu Jacob Thomas, office manager at Data Bank Security informed the commission that his office is a primary dealer to the Central Bank of the Gambia, adding that they started operations in 2003.

He said they paid company tax from 2003 to 2004, income tax from 2003 to 2011 and employers tax from 2004 to 2011, the receipts of which were all marked.

The commission ordered the management to provide them with MoU signed between them and the Central Bank of the Gambia as soon as possible.

Cherno Alieu Jallow, chartered accountant at Deloitte and Touché Associate said he joined the said company in 1999, but in June 2003 he was admitted as a partner.

He also told the commission that after the company’s name was changed in 2011, he became the managing partner, and showed the commission the receipts of payments made.

These included corporate income tax from 1999 to May 2011, PAYE, environmental tax, as well as sales tax receipts, which were all marked and admitted as evidence.

Sampierre Mendy, admin. manager at Emanic Consulting Company Limited was also at the commission to produce receipts of corporate tax, sales tax and PAYE paid.

He told the commission that they paid corporate tax from 1999 to 2011, and employer’s tax from 2009 to 2011.

He was told by the chairperson of the commission to make available the receipts of payment of sales tax by 21st December 2011.

The company’s receipts for corporate and PAYE taxes paid were marked.

Sittings of the commission resume on 14 December 2011.