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Finance officer laments less robust trade policy

January 20, 2016  By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Assistant Secretary at the Revenue and Tax Policy Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development yesterday admitted that the current trade policy is not robust enough to meet current challenges.

Abu Bakarr Conteh was speaking at a question and answer session on the challenges of the country’s trade policy during an interactive forum organised for media and civil society by the Tax and Revenue Department of the ministry.

He reckoned that policy is pretty crucial in broadening the country’s tax revenue base, but noted that the production base is narrow, as large amount of what is being consumed is imported.

“Lots are being lost in the area of trade to neighbouring countries as a result of cross-border smuggling. Transaction time to clear goods from the quay has to be reduced. The sub-region is working towards having a common external tariff,” he said and added that lots of revenue is being lost as a result.

Acting Director of Revenue and Tax Policy Division, Mohamed A. Salisu, said the division’s main brief is to design and formulate policies that are implemented by the National Revenue Authority (NRA).

He explained that tax policies are not cast on stone, but subject to sober scrutiny, citing the economy, adding that they hold consultations with relevant authorities to discuss challenges envisaged in the implementation of existing policies.

He continued that based on the challenges envisaged, they might decide to review existing policies to be able to meet much needed requirement for revenue generation, adding: “We look at grey areas where we can also go in and tap. We also implement and monitor what NRA collects.”

Salisu said: “Our mission is to provide and maintain a tax regime which will ensure that the required revenue for financing government programmes and commitment, encouraging savings and investment and promoting social justice is ensured. Such is achieved through tax and revenue enhancing measures which broaden the tax base by creating a system that facilitates voluntary compliance by being efficient, simple and fair.

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