Tuesday, March 21

President Barrow Says ‘Kaa For Dokula Ye Ining Bara, Ka Juso Sumuyandi Leh’ –

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By Musa S.sheriff

President Adama Barrow has said that a Mandinka teaches that “Kaa for dokula ye ining bara, ka juso sumuyandi leh,” implying that saying “thank you” does not fill a stomach but it fills the heart with satisfaction,  so, thank GRA for acting dutifully.

He made the statement at Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) 5th edition and 2022 taxpayer’s award at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on Saturday night.

The Gambian leader said that the Government has been a great benefactor of the private sector, but it also benefits a great deal from the sector’s successes, adding their contribution to the country’s tax revenue base, for example, is enormous.

He stated that accordingly, the government’s potential to locally fund national development programmes largely depends on this revenue base, noting the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) is, therefore, one of the major avenues of raising funds for national projects. 

According to President Barrow, since his administration came into office in 2017, GRA’s total revenue receipt grew significantly from about D8 billion to almost D12.8 billion in 2022, representing more than a sixty (60) percent increase.

“In the same period, average monthly revenue collection also grew significantly from D664 million in 2017 to D1.06 billion in 2022.

The growth in tax revenue is the result of a sound government policy to expand the country’s tax base and tighten the loopholes in our national tax collection system,” he added.

President Barrow pointed out that at the centre of his government’s fiscal policy is the conviction that our economic prosperity as a country should hinge on expanding the tax base and leveraging technology, rather than interfering with the tax codes.

Consequently, he added that this policy position aims to improve the fiscal space and enhance trade facilitation for the private sector to succeed. 

He commended development partners, who have continually provided tremendous support to the Gambian people in the form of grants and other types of assistance, he called for the need to shift from depending heavily on foreign aid to relying more on domestic revenue mobilisation, adding that this has become even more necessary because our economy is prone to external shocks.  

“In 2022, my government was left with no option but to intervene using both fiscal and monetary tools to ease the cost burden on the public. For this purpose, we spent over D1.6 billion on fuel subsidies. Although it provided much-needed relief for the Gambian people, over D1.6 billion of tax revenue was forgone by the Government to make fuel internally affordable during the crisis. The money could have been spent on development projects.

As I observed recently, 2022 was particularly challenging for the entire world, including The Gambia. High inflation spread across the globe, resulting in the increase in commodity prices and the cost of living globally,” President Barrow revealed at GRA 5th edition and 2022 taxpayer’s award night.

The Gambian leader also said the economic outlook for low-income countries, among which is The Gambia, is promising this year, adding that it is projected that economic growth will rise marginally from 4.8 percent in 2022 to 4.9 percent, and we are hopeful that this will be a year of relief from the fiscal challenges of last year.

According to him, despite the global economic challenges in 2022, domestic revenue surpassed international trade receipts for the first time since the creation of GRA, saying.

 “Domestic revenue contributed 51.2 percent of GRA collection in 2022. This successful revenue performance is a direct result of the innovative strategies implemented of late. One of them is the use of modern technology systems and another is the streamlining of the tax collection process,” President Barrow pointed out.

He added that these initiatives have improved efficiency and made it easier for citizens to comply with their tax obligations, thus reducing tax fraud and tax evasion.