By Mustapha Jallow / Fatoumatta Conteh
The Gambia Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA), in partnership with the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), on Friday 24th February 2023, signed a concession agreement with SICPA SA, a Swiss Company, for the implementation of a revenue mobilisation solution for excisable goods, telecom services and refined fuels, as improving efficiency in the collection of revenue for the Gambia, becomes part of the reform priorities in GRA’s Corporate Strategy Plan 2020-2024.
The signing ceremony which took place at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs at the Quadrangle in Banjul, brought together the GRA executive, officials of the finance Ministry and experts from SICPA.
“The introduction of the revenue mobilization solutions will be a game changer in terms of revenue collection, and will go a long way to support government’s development programmes,” Seedy Keita, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs said. The full implementation of this solution he added, will give GRA among other things, access to accurate real-time or near real-time production data of locally produced excisable goods, and differentiate between illicit and genuinely imported excisable goods; That it will further provide revenue assurance on taxes and levies being collected from telecom services, and will distinguish genuinely imported fuel products from illicit fuel through fuel marking.
For industries, Minister Keita said the stamping of their products will distinguish them from both fake illicit products, and said this will also protect the market share from unfair competition from fake and illicit products, adding that the public will gain through the consumption of genuinely imported and locally produced excisable goods.
As part of the requirements, he went on, government is required to put in place the necessary laws and regulations that will facilitate the smooth implementation of the solution.
Yankuba Darboe, Commissioner General for GRA, said the benefits of this solution touches on all actors of the economy particularly producers, as it will help monitor their market share which will serve as a major deterrent to smuggling and dumping of substandard products; thus encouraging fair competition; That for consumers, it will ensure quality assurances as all products consumed within the country will be tested for quality and validated through a digital tax stamp.
On the side of the government, CG Darboe indicated that the agreement will combat tax evasion and further inform the government on the size of the economy through improved data quality for policy making and planning, to enhanced visibility of economic activities in the telecoms and manufacturing industries.
“On public health, the solution will help ensure authentication of products and hence deter the influx of fake and unhealthy products in the country. Consumers with the help of a GRA scanner will be able to authenticate that the product consumed is genuinely imported/produced and has paid all the relevant taxes to the state. It will also increase visibility for tax administration which will enhance revenue performance to fund critical government priorities and improve data quality to guide policy reforms,” he pointed out.
Albert Moragas, Director for Business Development at SICPA SA, explained how the Swiss company felt pleased to sign this long-term partnership with the government of the Gambia in order to launch an effective solution to increase domestic revenue mobilization.
“We thank the government of the Gambia, particularly the Ministry of Finance and GRA, for the trust and partnership,” he said.