Apr 2, 2014, 9:21 AM
The award ceremony graced by government officials, public and private sector officials saw the awarding of 20 most compliant taxpayers, both institutions and individuals.
In her remarks at the award ceremony, GRA deputy legal director, Zainab Amami Jawara, said GRA had realised that celebrating and honouring taxpayers is an important strategy, and that the aim is to motivate and encourage taxpayers to pay their taxes on time with the ultimate goal of achieving voluntary compliance.
She said this would motivate taxpayers to willingly pay their taxes on time, file their returns and, generally, comply with both tax and customs laws.
According to her, the category of awards for this year had been reduced to twenty in number, and range from the most compliant large taxpayer of the year, most compliant medium taxpayer of the year, most compliant small taxpayer of the year, most compliant bonded warehouse operator taxpayer of the year, most compliantgeneral merchant of the year, most compliant GSM company operator of the year, most compliant bonded warehouse operator of the year 2015, most compliant financial institution of the year 2015, most compliant hotel of the year 2015, most compliant importer of the year 2015, most compliant manufacturer of the year 2015, most compliant Agro business of the year 2015, most compliant rental taxpayer of the year 2015, most compliant PAYE taxpayer of the 2015, most compliant VATtaxpayer of the year 2015, most compliantpublic enterprise of the year 2015,most compliant WCR taxpayerof the year 2015, most compliant NBR, importer of the year 2015, most compliant LRR taxpayer of the year 2015, most compliant CRR taxpayer of the year 2015, and most compliant URRtaxpayer of the year 2015.
In his remarks on the occasion, GRA Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe said the ceremony was to recognize and award the most compliant institutions and individuals who pay their tax on time, as well as for the authority to say thank you for their compliance.
He said this is a testimony to the value customers attached to the bonds of professional relationship with his institution.
GRA CG Darboe on behalf of GRA expressed sincere gratitude and appreciation to President Yahya Jammeh for the unflinching support to the authority, as well as his consistent call for Gambians and residents of The Gambia to respect and honour their obligations to the nation.
This had gone a long way in cementing the efforts in the drive towards promoting the culture of voluntary compliance with tax laws, he said.
He said tax administration in The Gambia and, indeed, in every corner in the world is a daunting task, adding that not only are tax administrators faced with resources constraints, but they also work in a complex and dynamic businesses environment.
“Our success, therefore, hinges to a large extent on the support we receive from the government, voluntarily complying taxpayers and through the rigorous enforcement of legal and administrative measures,” the GRA official said.
The government on its part has been very supportive to the GRA over the years, he said, adding that this had been manifested time and again in the provision of the necessary resources for effective operations, and in providing the necessary support and leverage in complex administrative matters.
“We thank you for the support and urge you to redouble your efforts to help maximize our internal revenue generation capacity, and make The Gambia a truly economically independent country,” said Mr Darboe.
The event was specifically organised to recognise and publicly award the most compliant taxpayers, who are the authority’s most valued customers, he added.
“We consider you to be the heroes and heroines of this country, and have endeavoured to recognise and celebrate your contribution towards nation-building,” he further stated.
This was why they are gathered in another moment of reflection to recognise their efforts, participation and contribution towards national development, he continued.
“It is worthy to note that without your voluntarily complying with your tax obligations, it would be practically difficult to mobilize the domestic revenue required for national development,” he told the awardees.
“We hope events like this will enhance our relationship with you in national development and create awareness in tax obligations,” he said.
According to the GRA official, many of the taxpayers’ sensitisation programmes initiated in the past few years are still continuing, and a number of information materials have also been developed to help explain, in simple terms, complex tax laws and regulations.
“We have also established strategic partnerships with a number of commercial banks to facilitate the payment of duties and taxes directly through these commercials banks.”
To strengthen this alliance, plans are underway to use other commercial banks once they meet and agree with assurance requirements, he further noted.
Mr Darboe also stated that all these initiatives are geared towards the improvement of their business processes, and to reduce tax compliance costs and the cost of doing business.
The authority would continue to strive to improve its processes and procedures to ensure that tax compliance is as simple and cost-effective as possible, he went on.
Henceforth, he added, the authority would take tax evasion seriously, and would rigorously be exploring third party information from different sources to enforce tax compliance.
He urged all other businesses and other income earners who have not been fully complying with their obligations to emulate the awardees being recognised.
Mr Darboe thanked the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and his entire ministry and the board of directors of the authority for the relentless support and guidance.
The ministry and the board have been instrumental in helping the authority meet the high cost of tax compliance enforcement activities, he said.
He also thanked all stakeholders, particularly the IMF, WCO, World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union Delegation, among others, for their continue support in their programmes, and looks forward to greater and A mutually beneficial collaboration and partnership.
Mr Darboe also thanked the taxpayers’ recognition and award ceremony organising committee, for the successful organisation and management of the event.
“To the management and staff of the authority your dedication to duty and hard work is exemplary, and I urge you to keep the momentum.”
Also speaking at the award ceremony was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of GRA, Mamour Malick Jagne, who said the event was an opportunity to express their profound gratitude to taxpayers for fulfilling their responsibilities, as good members of the community.
“We realise that it is the taxpayers who support the government in its efforts to mobilize the much-needed financial resources for socio-economic development.”
According to Mr. Jagne, GRA is proud to organise an annual taxpayer award night as a platform to show appreciation, and to thank their distinguished taxpayers for the unwavering support they continued to extend to the authority, the government and the country.
The celebration was significant to them as it complements GRA’s efforts towards consolidating the voluntary tax compliance culture among taxpayers.
The GRA was committed to ensuring that it plays rightful role in the mobilisation of the requisite financial resources to enhance the country’s financial independence, he said.