MPs order Bonthe district Council to pay Le36m NRA, NASSIT contributions

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October 29, 2018

By Jariatu S. Bangura

mps
Former Finance officer, Tom Sarnar (far left) and his colleagues

Members of the Public Account Committee (PAC) have ordered officials of the Bonthe District Council to pay an outstanding Le32 million withholding taxes to NRA and Le4million NASSIT contributions for staff.

They committee issued a week’s ultimatum for council to submit payment receipts to the Clerk of the committee or face the wrath of parliament.

Council officials were before the committee to clarify claims made in the 2016 Auditor General’s Annual Report on the Accounts of Sierra Leone, which was laid in the House of Parliament in December 2017.

According to the Principal Auditor of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Mohamed Mustapha, an amount of Le43, 017, 702.78 was deducted as withholding taxes for goods, works and services, but was not paid to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) as required by section 117(4) of the Income Tax Act, 2000 and the provision in the Finance Act of 2016.

He said there was also no receipt to confirm that the sum of Le44, 667, 852.50 NASSIT contributions was deducted from core staff salary and paid to NASSIT.

“Out of the aforementioned amount, only Le25, 965, 000 was paid over to NASSIT, leaving a remainder of Le18, 702, 852.50. There was no evidence that NASSIT and PAYE deductions were made for support staff,” he said.

However, former Finance Officer of Bonthe District Council, Tom Sarnar, explained that normally when withdrawals were made, they do prepare a cheque for transfers to be made to NRA, but stated that due to the poor road network, they couldn’t do it on time.

He admitted that the fault was theirs and promised that  payment would be made in due course.

“It is of no argument that it was our fault but we will pay. Basically, I have had meetings with the administration for payment to be made but we want to appeal that time be given to discuss the issue with management,” he pleaded.

On the issue of NASSIT contributions, he said most of the staff whose contributions were not paid were those transferred to the council, but were not on payroll. He said it was decided by senior staff members that their NASSIT contributions be given to them since their names were not on voucher.

He noted that council only has Le4million arrears which he also promised that it would be paid subsequently.

Deputy Chairman of PAC, Hon. Lahai Marah,who presided over the meeting, urged councils to collaborate with the committee to fast track the process as the 2017 Auditor General’s report would  soon be laid before the House of Parliament.

“We want all the councils to cooperate with us as we want to conclude this 2016 report .The 2017 report is at the corner and we will only conclude this report with your support. If you know you have documents to submit, make sure you submit them before appearing before us. After this 2016 report, we are negotiating with Auditors as they are not happy with us because of the politics involved,” he said.

He said the committee does not compromise withholding taxes, hence those taxes deducted should be paid.

“Since 2016 to date, you have still not paid the money in full. Only le11million has been given and we want this money immediately without delay. We want to see receipt of the Le32million and the Le 4million NASSIT contributions by next week with no excuse.
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Make sure you bring the receipts of payment to the committee clerk by the next sitting,” he ordered.