The Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, has strongly supported the Goods and Services Tax (GST) initiated by the National Revenue Collection Authority (NRA).
Adonis Aboud a member of the Chamber of Commerce said his organization fully supports NRA and they would be looking forward for its success.
He said this in a stakeholder’s conference on GST at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex on Tuesday.
He advised NRA to thoroughly educate the masses about the process so that the idea of GST could be interpreted well.
In his key note address the vice president Samuel Sam Sumana, said the introduction of Goods and Services Tax is a key for the modernization of the tax system, in order to make it easier for tax payers to comply with the payment of tax and to improve on tax collection to develop the national Revenue. Vice president Sumana said GST also known as value added tax VAT had been established in 150 countries , and of which 46 African countries are members .He said GST is an internationally accepted tax that is widely understood by business people.
VP Sumana also stated that in the West African region, it is only Sierra Leone and The Gambia that have failed to meet the deadline for the implementation of GST after the ECOWAS deadline in 2005.
He also reiterated that GST is not an added tax, but a replacement for seven existing taxes currently administered by NRA which includes Domestic and Import Sales Tax, Restaurant and Food Tax, Professional Service Tax, Hotel and Accommodation Tax, and Entertainment Tax.
“Starting from September 1st these taxes will be consolidated into one, and administered as GST, at the same time, 15% rate as the current sales tax”. He further added that GST will bring uniform tax treatment to all suppliers, sectors, and stages of production- distribution chain.
NRA Commissioner General, Alieu Sesay said the key guiding principles of NRA is to develop and implement GST, which is simple and easy for tax payers to comply with, administer in order to help develop the economy.
He said in all only 1000 out of 1500 businesses are expected to register for GST, taking cognizance of the fact that the ACT confines obligations on businesses with annual taxable turnover over Le2 million. The Commissioner said NRA has invested a lot in sensitization campaign for policy makers in the public sector and also in businesses.
He also said the idea was broaden to reach out to the wider public through workshops, radio and print media, billboards and street campaigns. “GST tax payers are now kicking up after a slow start about 600 tax payers have been registered so far against a target of 1500 by September”.
The Minister of Trade and Industry admonished NRA to include professionals in sensitizing the public about GST.
President of the Importers Association, Alpha Tanu Jalloh said that their concern is that majority of our members are illiterate, so there is need for NRA/GST to develop a mechanism in helping us know as to how to go about it with less mistakes, as it has already been said that there is a fine for offenders.
President of the Manufactures Association, Paul Hancock said “ we at the manufacturer’s association are pleased with the introduction of GST.
GST, he said will make local manufacturers more competitive to the imported goods.
Presentation on GST was climaxed by a group work and discussions. Recommendations made will be formed into a communiqué.
By Jon-Bu & Abibatu Kamara