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GRA, Customs and Excise bills enacted

Apr 14, 2010, 12:01 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah & Alieu Jabang

As sittings continued at the National Assembly, members on Tuesday enacted the Gambia Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the Customs and Excise Bill 2010.

The bills were tabled before the National Assembly, by the Minister of Finance, Momodou Foon.

Moving the motion, Finance Minister Foon said the objective of the bill is to ensure the efficient performance of the function of the Gambia Revenue Authority, by allowing the authority on behalf of the government bodies or agencies increase the composition on the Board of Directors by providing members with legal background.

He told deputies that the bill also seeks to comprehensively outline the functions of the authority by ensuring improvement in the standard of services to tax-payers, with a view to improving efficiency and effectiveness in the administration and maximisation of revenue collection.

Seconding the motion, Hon Sellu Bah, the member for Basse said the Gambia Revenue Authority is the only authorised body, that’s empowered by the law to collect revenue on behalf of the government.

In his contribution to the debate, Hon. Cherno Cham of Upper Niumi said the bill is very clear from the objective that it seeks to promote efficient performance of the Gambia Revenue Authority, and to comprehensively outline its functions. This, he added, will help maximise the revenue base of The Gambia.

"This bill will give autonomy to GRA and enable it prudently function well in the management of Gambia Revenue as the country is a revenue based economy," he said.

He said that as a tax driven economy, this amendment bill is of paramount importance to the socio-economic development of the country.

For his part, Hon Babading KK Daffeh of Kiang Central deplored that there are some businessmen who are operating without paying taxes. He called on the GRA officials to be very vigilant when it comes to tax collection.

He urged GRA to leave no stone unturned in the collection of revenues, as it is the backbone of the economy, noting that 30 or more people operate under one licence, which KK feels is totally unfair.

Hon Lamin Jadama of Naimina West underscored the importance of the bill, noting that its significance cannot be over-emphasised.

Also, on the same day, the Minister of Finance also tabled before deputies, the Customs and Excise Bill 2010. The bill, he said, seeks to bring about a new dispensation in customs administrations and in so doing repeals the existing Customs Act of 1990, the Customs Tariff Act, the educational films (Exemption from duty) Act, the folded woven goods Act.

According to the Minister, the bill also seeks to enable taxpayers carry out advance customs declaration and pay correct duties and taxes on a self-assessment basis, based on authentic original invoices.

Finance Minister Foon also stated that the bill would provide for transparent, predictable and auditable duty exemption and remission regime to privilege institutions, personnel and the administration.

He said the bill would also provide for the accreditation of clearing agents to ensure that they operate professionally and ethically.

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