Parliament on Tuesday enacted the Finance Act, 2009 being an Act to provide for the imposition and alteration of taxation. The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Richard Konteh explained that the Act was geared towards accelerating the economic growth as well as to improve delivery of basic services. Debating on the Finance Act, the Parliamentary Oversight Committee Chairman for Finance, Dr. Moses Sesay of APC said the Act will capture all the revenue flow from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Hon. Dr. Brima Kamanda of SLPP expressed regret that the bill was debated towards the end of the year rather than at the start of January. He made references to the Ministries and Departments that collected monies but whose expenditures left much to be desired. Hon. Ansu Kai-Kai of SLPP contributed that some of the parastatals that were given privileges on taxation grossly abused it. But Hon. Ibrahim Sorie of APC commented that one of their oversight responsibilities was to make sure they as MPs oversee the protection of funds expended to the Ministries and Departments. Hon. PC Bai Kurr Kanagbaro stated that the motive of government was to coordinate and bring together revenue collection. He said apart from the support from the International Community, the country does not have a standby development fund to undertake Schools and Health Programmes. The Act gives the powers to the Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority to collect taxes and to also levy penalties on defaulters. But when the bill moved to the Committee of the whole House, it was highly debated whether the NRA should collect taxes for institutions like Maritime Administration, Natcom, Civil Aviation Authority and Pharmacy Board. The idea was for NRA to collect taxes on behalf of these institutions and retain 50% of the funds collected and lodge the other 50% into the Consolidated Fund. At the report stage or third reading, it was amended that the Maritime Administration, Natcom, Civil Aviation Authority and Pharmacy Board collect their own taxes and not NRA.
By Ishmael Bayoh