September 3, 2019
With the dynamic leadership of Dr.Samuel Jibao as Commissioner General, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) continues to making significant gains in the collection of revenue through the introduction of several reform measures.
On Saturday 31st August, the authority launched the commencement of Saturday operations at the Queen Elizabeth Quay, in-house banking, SMS messaging and declaration tracking system, all aimed at improving the business environment and ensuring increased revenue generation.
Speaking at the ceremony, Commissioner General Dr.Samuel Jibao said they were demonstrating part of what President Bio mandated them to do, to facilitate trade and generate revenue.
He said at the NRA, their target is so easy to measure, to increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 20 percent against 2023, and that their vision is that they want to transform the institution to one of excellence and the reference to other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and regional revenue authorities.
“For us to achieve this there is obvious need to reform the institution to a modern revenue administration, one that ensures that customs and tax administration are fully automated, integrated and simplified, one that ensures that the cost of transaction is reduced, one that ensures that there is reduced leakages in our system and one that is enable to expand the tax base,” he said.
He admitted that they were yet to get there,but that they have set themselves a target as against 2023, which he said can be can achieved by stepping up their game.
He said there has been increased level of confidence from donor partners including World Bank and IMF due to the significant strides they are making in terms of revenue generation.
Dr.Jibao said the Saturday operation would be a full working day, starting from 9m to 5pm, while the banks would be opened from 9am to 4pm, adding that customers should ensure that they conduct transactions within that timeframe.
He dilated on the declaration tracking system which would enable the authority to track all declarations, as well as the SMS messaging that would be informing customers about the exact payment for consignments at the port, to ensure transparency.
Commissioner of the Customs Department,Sahid Conteh, said the reform measures were geared towards improving the business environment and public service delivery.
“The in-house banking is anticipated to impact transactional cost, and our daily average revenue condition whiles the Saturday operations would increase our operational days, suggesting an ultimate increased scheme in monthly revenue collection. The SMS messaging and Declaration Trackers are systems generated with the aim to enhance the effectiveness and the ability of NRA management,” he said.
Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Sahr Jusu commended the board, management team and the staff of NRA for being so excellent over the past few months.
He recalled that in the past, many people would not want to be called staff of NRA, but now proud to be one.
He noted that the most important organ of government is not the Ministry of Finance, but the NRA, because without revenue government cannot perform its functions well.
“In 2007 the IMF left this country because of poor revenue performance. At that time individuals pocketed money owned by the government and to collect five billion Leones a day used to be a prayer,” he said.
He said the country’s rebranding process was being admired due to the increased revenue collection, adding that last year alone revenue collection increased popularly by 30% (an increment of 1.5% to the GDP), which he said has never happened in any country.
He noted that for a country to be considered as a good performer by international standards, revenue GDP ratio should be 15% for three consecutive years and that the Sierra Leone is gradually moving towards that end.
Jusu also added that when ASYCUDA World was introduced, a lot of business people resisted it but it later became one of the most popular instruments in revenue generation.
Meanwhile, partner organisations including the Sierra Leone Shipping Agency, Commercial Banks Association, Sierra Leone Port Authority, and Importers Association pledged their support towards the implementation of the reforms.