May 5, 2016 By Alimamy Lahai Kamara
“Evading tax means going against the laws and its attendant effect is that it destroys the economy of countries and Sierra Leone is no exception,” Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Shollay Davies said while addressing members of the National Action Against Tax Evasion (NAATE), at the Commission’s Conference Room at Gloucester Street, Freetown.
Mr. Davies said tax evasion is a corruption offence, depriving the State of generating much-needed revenue to implement social programmes.
The National Action Against Tax Evasion had approached the Commission to forge a partnership that focuses on dealing with tax evasion in the country.
Executive Director of NAATE, Philip Kanu, said his organisation seeks to work with government agencies to bring perpetrators of tax evasion to book. According to him, Sierra Leone is experiencing challenges in managing a sound economy, one of the reasons for that being tax evasion.
Philip Kanu underscored the difficulty that lies ahead in working to securing a clean taxation system, adding that he is confident that with the support of the ACC and other relevant stakeholders, tax evasion would be tackled.
NAATE is one of few civil society organisations interested in taxation. Shollay Davies described their initiative as laudable and pledged the Commission’s support to assist in capacity building. “Sierra Leoneans have responsibility to remaining patriotic, and that means abiding to laws preventing tax evasion,” Mr. Davies added.
Director, Systems and Processes Review at the ACC, Maurice Williams, acknowledged there are challenges ahead in fighting tax evasion but that success could be assured when NAATE lives by example.
Victor Peacock, Director Internal Audit at the ACC, called for more collaborative engagements with relevant stakeholders, while noting that his department stands willing to offer training on taxation.
Calvin Mantsebo,Director of Intelligence, Investigations and Prosecution (IIP) ACC, said the Commission welcomes receipt of intelligence from NAATE bothering on tax evasion in order to investigate perpetrators and bring them to book. NAATE will be largely sharing intelligence with the IIP Department, he concluded.
Deputy Director of Public Education and Outreach, Patrick Sandi, said his department has capacity to provide training on media and public engagements, and transfer skills to NAATE in dealing with the public on tax issues with high ethical considerations.
NAATE is poised to support the Commission in addressing corruption in taxation. But it will have to be subjected to robust background and probity checks as preliminary requirements for partnership.