The Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Bakary Sanyang, Friday appeared before the Tax Commission sitting at the high court premises in Banjul.
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 GRA.
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.
Sanyang’s appeared before the tax commission after a summons was served on him by the commission to appear to shed light on certain information needed from him.
GRA’s Commissioner General told the commission that the order served on him, dated 11th January 2012, did not reach him on time.
He added that it was to seek clarification on what the commission wanted him to do, and that a team was constituted to work on the assignment of the commission, but the deadline was not met.
He said he received a letter from the President’s Office, ordering him to go and attend a conference in Addis Ababa.
The GRA boss further told the commission that when he came back, he reported to his office and called the team to know how far they have gone with the request of the commission, adding that the team told him that they have completed working on the tax payers.
He expressed regret for not appearing before the commission on the given date to give relevant information, as required by the commission.
He went further to inform the commission that he was appointed as the Commissioner Genera on 9 March 2011, and is the overall boss at the GRA.
Sanyang stated that for domestic tax, the GRA collected D140 million plus and for income tax D190 million plus, adding that the target set for December was about D400 million.
In December, collection was high, including the payments from the GSM companies, and people are aware that they have to pay tax, he told the commission.
He said he read the letter that was sent to him by the commission, adding that the GRA was partly computerized.
Letters from the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were tendered.
The accountant of CSE Company, Gibby Jaw Ann, told the Commission that his company was registered in 1989, and he produced A copy of the certificate of incorporation, which was tendered.
The main activities of the company are road construction, bridges and sometimes they erect buildings, he added.
The witness stated that 96 staff that on the payroll, that the company was exempted from paying sales tax, because their main customer is the Gambia government.
He further stated that he cannot say exactly how many contracts was contracted to them by the government, and furnished the commission with one of the contract letters, which was tendered.
Documents showing payment of corporate tax from 1999 to 2011, the environmental levy, copy of pay as you earn and photocopy of renewal of business registration from 1999 to 2011, as well as remittance of pay as you earn for September 2011, were tendered.
The commission then ordered him to provide the commission with all documentary evidence of all contracts that were contracted to them by the Gambia government, and the certificate that exempted their company from paying sales tax, as well as the staff schedules deductions.
Shergi Construction Company
Sedevil Samgi Gonpariya, managing director of Shergi Construction Company, said the company was established in 2001, adding that it is a private construction company registered in 2001.
He said he has six people on the payroll, and provided evidence of payment of income tax from 2001to 2011, sales tax from 2007 to 2011, as well as a certificate of business registration, which were all tendered.
The commission ordered him to provide evidence of payment of sales tax, from 2001to 2006, evidence of deduction of pay as you earn from 2001to 2011 and the staff deduction schedules to the commission.
Sahel Investment Company
Abdou Njie, managing director of Sahel Investment Company, informed the commission that it was registered in 1997 and copies of the company registration certificate and company memorandum of association articles were tendered.
He added that the company is a development firm for the NGOs and the government, adding that 8 to 9 people are on the payroll.
Evidence of payment of corporate tax from 2002 to 2011, pay as you earn from 2002 to 2011, including the schedules, and assessment from 2003 to 2005, were all tendered.
Mr. Njie told the commission that in 2001, they had moved office, and during the process they lost some documents. He said they went to GRA to retrieve them, but this was not possible.
Most of their jobs do not attract sales tax, because they are for donor funded-projects and the government, according to Mr. Njie.