NEWS STORY 10th July 2020
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Southern Region Office has, on the 10th July 2020, engaged senior officers of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in Bo on issues of corruption and risk factors, as expressed by members of the public in respect of revenue generation. The engagement took place at the ACC Regional office in Bo.
Speaking during the engagement, ACC’s Southern Region Manager, Musa J.B Jawara, said that partnership is key in the fight against corruption and that such an engagement seeks to let public institutions know how members of the public perceive their operations in respect of service delivery. He said that, through his regional office’s outreach activities, several corruption risk-related issues were raised by the public, such as the undervaluation of goods, nonpayment of taxes by commercial/business enterprises, embezzlement of tax revenue paid to NRA and the exemption of some businesses from paying taxes not mandated by law.
Mr. Jawara also highlighted corruption-risk factors such as tax evasion, collusion between tax officers and tax payers, failure by some public institutions to deduct withholding taxes for payments of goods and services and the issuance of NRA clearance to undeserving suppliers and contractors. He therefore craved the attention of senior NRA officers to address these concerns in a bid to prevent revenue loss to the State.
Deliberating on the offences in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, Resident Prosecutor, Abubakarr Sannoh Esq., said that revenue generation is the backbone of the country’s economy and therefore requires full compliance of the law to prevent corruption and enhance national development.
The ACC Prosecutor said that the anti-corruption laws have made corruption a high risk and unproductive enterprise, making reference to several offences in the amended Act and its parent Act; such as abuse of office/position, bribery, and misappropriation of donor/funds, conflict of interest, protection of public property and revenue and using influence for contract. He therefore implored the senior officers of the NRA Bo Office to caution their staff to stay away from corruption, as many of those offences carry a minimum fine of Fifty Million Leones (Le50,000,000) or five (5) years imprisonment, or both fine and jail term. He made reference to some former staff of NRA and other public institutions who had faced the wrath of these provisions.
Responding to the issues highlighted by the ACC, Manager of Domestic Tax Department NRA Bo, Alex Mambu, described the engagement as an opportunity for the NRA to hear firsthand concerns of corruption in revenue generation and to take the necessary actions in preventing same. He said all the issues raised by the public will be looked into with very keen interest.
Mr. Mambu however noted that there are challenges in his office’s revenue generation drive, but that such challenges are surmountable. He said that some public institutions are non-compliant in deducting the 5.5% withholding tax for goods and services acquired, and that there is most times a failure to pay such revenues to the NRA in instances where they are deducted. He therefore promised to avail the ACC with names of such institutions, whilst also promising to impose penalties on defaulters, as mandated by law.
A question-and-answer session climaxed the engagement.