May 7, 2009, 6:29 AM
The Regional Governor for the Central River
Region has challenged local authorities in his region, particularly the
Janjangbureh Area Council and the Kuntuar Area Council in CRR South and North
respectively, to pay their taxes to GRA and on time, with a view to enabling
them embark on socio-economic development for the country.
Alhaji Omar Khan made this remark on Thursday in Janjangbureh at its regional education conference hall, as part of a daylong tax seminar with businessmen across the 11 districts of CRR.
The forum, according to GRA officials, is meant among things to strengthen the cordial working relationship between GRA officials and the businessmen, and also to sensitise them on the importance of payment of tax.
The forum being the first of its kind organised by the Gambia Revenue Authority, was a welcomed development for businessmen in CRR as it has paved the way for them to strengthen their ties, and also avail them the opportunities to table some of the constraints and challenges they are encountering with a view to coming out with tangible solutions.
Governor Khan spoke at length on the significance of the forum, adding that its importance could not be overemphasised as far as national development is concerned.
He said the business communities are the most important ones as far as revenue and tax collection is concerned, saying that the government and GRA depend on the business sector through their payment of taxes.
Governor Khan urged the business community in his region to ensure that they pay their taxes properly and on time.
“I am made to understand that during the last tax award ceremony organised by GRA, CRR was able to win an award which is of paramount importance. Thus I will continue to engage the business communities and the local authorities in the region for them to pay their taxes.”
Governor Khan added that he had not received any complaint from GRA officers with regard to the business communities not paying their taxes regularly. Thus he implored on them to continue the good work, and pay their taxes on time.
He said the only defaulters in the region are the local authorities, “unfortunately the area councils”, noting that if they did not pay their taxes on time “they could be charged for economic crime”.
“Because you cannot collect money for government and spend it without government approval,” he said.
He, therefore, warned the area councils in his region to ensure that whenever they collect taxes from employees it should be paid directly to the revenue office of GRA in Brikamaba.
Ousman Bah, Head of Cooperation and Public Affairs for the Gambia Revenue Authority, dwelled on the significance of the forum.
He said payment of taxes is crucial and important in the sense that most of the development programmes and projects undertaken by government are from tax revenue, which is ploughed back to the community in the form of development projects.
He said they are aware that the Gambia Revenue Authority is one of the most important national institutions, in the crusade to generate resources for development services in the country.
The GRA had been collecting revenue in the country, which is given to the government for them to provide development services for the country in the areas of roads infrastructure, schools and hospitals construction, among others.
Mr Bah added that the forum would go a long way in providing linkage with the participants, while he challenged the participants to make best use of the forum, as well as to disseminate the information on the need to pay tax regularly to the general public.
He noted that the development of the country is their responsibility; thus they should not only rely on Europe to build the country.
Ebrima Njie, a businessman from Janjangbureh and various speakers, commended GRA for organising such an important forum as it would go a long way in enhancing their understanding on tax issues.
He appealed to the GRA to help them and reduce taxes as they can be “exorbitant” sometimes.