Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the National Revenue Authority (NRA) have launched a program on the theme: ‘Tax Compliance, Revenue Mobilisation and National Development’. The project was launched on Friday May 4th 2018 at a taxpayer sensitisation workshop at the Buxton Memorial Church, Charles Street.
Speaking at the launching, the NRA Director of Internal Controls and Audit, Mr. Phillip Koroma, who represented the NRA Commissioner General, outlined NRA’s taxpayer strategy over the years.
He commended OSIWA for partnering with NRA to promote voluntary tax compliance. OSIWA Country Manager, Professor Joe Pemagbi, disclosed that NRA is the second revenue authority in West Africa that is being sponsored by the organisation to boost tax education.
The rationale for the partnership he said is to reduce dependence on the extractive sector in domestic revenue mobilisation. The OSIWA project dates back to 2016 when the organisation requested a proposal to fund tax education activities for one year. In December 2017, first instalment of the requested funding was received by OSIWA and transferred into the NRA Dollar account. However, launching of the project was deferred due to the pending 2018 elections to ensure maximum exposure on implementation.
Close to 200 of the 300 taxpayers that were invited to the event attended. These include tax consultants, customs brokers, importers, shipping agencies, MDAs, mining companies and journalists. Draft Speech for the Commissioner General’s launching of the OSIWA Tax Education Campaign Launching on Friday 4th May, 2018.
OSIWA Representatives here present , Members of the Fourth Estate ,Our Valued Taxpayers,Distinguished Guests
Good Morning. Let me take this opportunity to warmly welcome you to this tax education workshop. Tax education is a vital component of NRAs operation since taxpayers must understand their obligations under tax laws, and be encouraged to comply voluntarily if the NRA is to achieve its mandate.
Over the years, the Authority has embarked on a taxpayer focused strategy that emphasises stakeholders’ engagement as the key corner stone in the drive to promote compliance. To date, we have adopted a stance that complements tax enforcement with continuous stakeholders’ engagement; building tax compliance through partnership. Such engagement provides the Authority and those we serve with platforms to constantly exchange ideas and generate mutually satisfactory solutions to our common challenges. Generally, taxpayer workshops/town hall meetings are used by the NRA to engage and educate taxpayers about tax legislations, taxpayer rights and responsibilities, enforcement actions, as well as customer service delivery measures.
Despite progress in reaching out to our taxpayers, we have been greatly constrained in implementing our Taxpayer Services Strategy due to delay in accessing our 3% Commission from the Ministry of Finance. Let me therefore on behalf of the Board of Directors and Management of the NRA thank the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA] for coming to our aid and funding some of our taxpayer education activities.
Sometime in 2016, OSIWA requested a proposal to fund tax education activities for a period of one year under its Economic Governance and Advancement Program. The Project amounts to $94,535,16 covering taxpayer workshops, jingles, radio and TV discussion programmes and tax clinics. In December 2017, $47,267.58 was transferred into the NRA USD Donor Support Account as first installment payment. The launching of the Project was however suspended due to the elections to ensure mximum exposure. We are today using this Taxpayer Sensitisation Workshop to launch this project.
Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the many challenges we face, the NRA has continued to serve the nation through improved domestic revenue mobilization. There is no doubt that taxation is fundamental to economic growth and sustainable development. Being able to mobilise domestic revenue is crucial for government as it increase fiscal power and reduce foreign aid dependency. I am happy to say that our performance in fulfilling this important responsibility has been impressive. This is mainly due to the successful implementation of Tax Reforms encompassing Information Technology which has helped us simplify processes, enhance service delivery and above all improve accountability and transparency in the tax system. With the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA++) in 2010 and the Domestic Taxes Information System (DTIS) in 2013, Taxes are now paid directly into banks and transferred immediately to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This has helped to reduce revenue leakages and consequently increase our capacity for revenue mobilisation.
In 2017, the Authority hit the three trillion mark in revenue collection, a remarkable feat considering reduced business activities due to the elections. This achievement is significant because it signaled a new trend in revenue collection and will now set a bench mark for subsequent years. The NRA has in recent past has taken several steps to reform and modernise its tax administration and strived to improve the way we do business and serve our valued Taxpayers to influence a positive taxpaying culture.
Taxpayers have been segmentation of into large, medium and small leading to the establishment of the Large Taxpayer Office (LTO) and Small and Medium Taxpayer Office (SMTO). The aim of this segmentation is to better serve the unique needs of different groups of taxpayers, and enhanced taxpayer services to boost compliance and revenue collection. The Customs Long Room also serves as a one-stop shop to cater to importers, whilst the Direct Traders Input Bureau at the Customs House, Cline Town is established for customs brokers to register their manifest using the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA]. Additionally, we have established a Call Centre, a centralized one-stop information center for all taxpayer information. The business community and other stakeholders need no longer visit NRA offices to get information about NRA’s operations and other tax related matters.
We have redesigned our Website and introduced E--Services to further improve taxpayers access to services and information. The e-filing services which enable online submission of returns for major taxes through the NRA website will considerably reduce filing times. We have also developed a Customer Service Charter and Taxpayer Assistance Strategy which set out commitments to deliver services of the highest standards to taxpayers covering areas of service reliability & punctuality, and response to enquiries and complaints.
With the support of OSIWA, we will embark on various tax education activities which include:
The OSIWA Tax Education Project is expected to further increase public knowledge on NRA’s mandate, operation, and modernisation drive. Going forward, our taxpayers will be better informed of changes in tax laws, automation and taxpayer services particularly the electronic payment and returns filing systems to promote tax compliance.
The overall effect of this campaign is an improved relationship with key stakeholders that will foster a culture of voluntary tax compliance. It is our intention to continue to undertake reforms in order to improve our relationship with Stakeholders, build a well functioning tax administration system to maximises revenue collection.
I Thank You.