May 15, 2009, 7:26 AM
The minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Abdou Kolley, yesterday presided over the inauguration of the Tax and Customs Tribunal; Gambia Revenue Authority Board of Directors and the National Statistics Council.
Headed by Justice Basirou VP Mahoney, Mamour Jagne and Sekou Mboge, the Tax and Customs Tribunal; GRA Board of Directors, and National Statistics Council respectively are tasked with various responsibilities.
Tax and Customs Tribunal
The provision for, and the establishment of the Tribunal is seen as a major component in the ongoing tax and customs administration reforms of the Gambia Government. It among others seeks to “protect the taxpayers.”
GRA Board of Directors
As the governing body of the Gambia Revenue Authority, the Board is responsible for monitoring its performance and determining policies relating to staffing and procurement.
National Statistics Council
Established under section 5 of the Statistics Act 2005, the National Statistics Council being the oversight body over the Gambia Bureau of Statistics, is responsible for formulating the national statistical strategy and reform plans and for coordinating their implementation among the main statistical agencies.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony which first saw the inauguration of the National Statistics Council held at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in Banjul, Finance Minister Kolley underscored the importance of timely data and information.
“The diverse nature of the composition of the council from key national stakeholders in the national statistics system is meant to give the Bureau the necessary guidance and impetus in the production and dissemination of key national statistics and delivery on the mandate of the Bureau in general,” Kolley stated.
According to him, the inauguration of the council comes at a time when preparations for two major exercises have begun – the 2012 Population and Housing Census and the Demographic and Health Survey.
On the GRA Board of Directors, Minister Kolley highlighted the important role played by the Gambia Revenue Authority in the national economy, being the principal revenue collection agent of the government.
He told the new board that as part of ongoing financial management reforms, a number of tax administration reforms have been undertaken in the recent past and more are planned in the coming years.
“One key such reforms is the planned introduction of value added tax (VAT) to replace the existing sales tax by January 2012,” he said, adding that government also plans to undertake a comprehensive tax reform exercise with a view to rationalizing the tax regime and bringing down tax rates.
Finance Minister Kolley noted that in as much as our economy is essentially tax-based, it is equally true that taxation must not stifle business growth and development.
On the Tax and Customs Tribunal, Kolley said for the purpose of expediency, efficiency and synergies, it was decided that the members appointed to the Tax Tribunal will also sit on the Customs Tribunal such that the two tribunals will operate as a single Tax and Customs Tribunal.
He stated that the government recognizes the fundamental need to protect the taxpayers and in that regard, saw the need to create awareness for those that may be aggrieved by the decisions and actions of tax authorities, to seek redress.
“It is now in the interest of tax payers to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the tax laws as they relate to their rights to appeal from decisions of tax authorities,” Kolley added.
The heads of the Tax and Customs Tribunal, GRA Board of Directors and the National Statistics Council commended the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs for giving them the opportunity to serve in their respective assignments, noting that it is a big challenge.