After a campaign spanning two years, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) held another workshop explaining the details of the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) which will take effect on September 1.
Alfred Akibo -Betts, the assistant commissioner of the GST , said that the GST was not a new tax, but a way to replace and consolidate seven different taxes: import sales, domestic sales, restaurant and food, message, entertainment, hotel accommodation and professional services.
He said that this consolidation would cut costs, as it would place all the current seven taxes into one department and help the government to operate more efficiently.
“For the NRA and the government of Sierra Leone, it is very necessary for us not to waste government revenue,” he said.
Officials say that the GST would be charged as products went through various stages of their production in which value added – the difference between the value of sales and the value or purchased inputs – would be generated.
The taxes will be collected by GST registered businesses that will pay an input tax on their purchases and charge an output tax on their sales. The difference between the input and output taxes will be paid to the NRA.
Officials say there will be 15 exemptions from the GST, among them being rice, bottled water, fuel and newspapers.
Akibo-Betts said that because the selected exemptions accounted for the highest expenses of residents in Sierra Leone, officials chose not to tax them so as not to make them unaffordable.
He also said that the revenue collected from the GST would be used toward improving Sierra Leone, including investing in the country’s lagging manufacturing industry, government development projects and making the country more attractive for foreign direct investment.
A copy of the GST ACT 2009 is available online at www.nra.gov.sl and more information can be provided by calling NRA officers at 078/077/033/030 970 844.
By Judy Sone Vue and Abibatu Kamara