Sierra Leone News: NRA Collects Trillions… as Reforms Take Firm Root

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Commissioner General for National Revenue Authority (NRA), Dr. Samuel Jibao

Commissioner General for National Revenue Authority (NRA), Dr. Samuel Jibao on 6 June, 2019 clocked one year in office. He believes that during this period several changes have been made in the way and manner revenue collection is being carried out that has led to huge success, despite there are still a few challenges.

He added that he met NRA in a state that he can describe as very challenging. Challenging in terms of even the financial position was not good. In the handing over which he got, it came out clearly that NRA even owed suppliers over eight billion Leones (Le8B) and the other one has to do with staffing. We had a lot of vacant positions at the senior management level; there was no Deputy Commissioner General and in terms of even the morale of the staff, it was so low when he came onboard. So that’s the state in which he actually inherited this organization.

In terms of integrity, he said he really met a situation where the perception about the organization in terms of integrity was really very low. That’s the kind of NRA he actually inherited.
According to Dr. Jibao, the first thing is that the Board was constituted, headed by a very eloquent and hardworking Chair in the person of Madam Tuma Adama Jabbie.

He went on to state that when he took over they had the discussion on how to fill the vacant positions and they were able to fill all the senior management positions including that of the Deputy Commissioner General who incidentally is also a very hardworking and very strong lady.

‘So I can say in terms of the governance we’ve now got almost the full complement when it comes to the senior management and we are almost close to getting the full complement for our middle management level. We have also hired more technical staff. So we are on track on that. And in terms of revenue; it is now relatively predictable. We can relatively predict our weekly revenue, that’s one thing we have achieved,’ he said.

He went on to state that in terms of the numbers – revenue has really jumped. ‘If we compare 2019 first quarter to 2018 first quarter, all categories – revenue overall increased by 51% and so far from January to May 2019, we have actually generated about Le2.20 trillion which is quite high when you compare to the whole of the first half of last year 2018 when we collected less than that – about two hundred and sixteen billion Leones less. We still have one month to go but yet we have collected more than the whole of 2018 first half. So that shows how in fact, the revenue is doing well. In terms of growth, I can say in 2018 when we came, revenue grew by 35% that is higher than inflation because some people say prices are going up but that has nothing to do with that. Inflation was about 17% now we are talking about revenue growth about 35%. So even if you take the inflation out, the revenue is still growing. Even in terms of the GDP, revenue grew by 1.5% which is really very impressive performance by any international standard. So far in terms of revenue generation it is now predictable like I said. We predict on weekly basis and if I tell you that next week I will get over hundred billion, I know I will get it. Why – because we have been able to at least seal blocks of leakages and we have gotten to understand our taxpayer base more realistically,’ the NRA CG boasted.
He added that with the help of the Board they are now having a more robust governance structure and by not only filling the vacant positions, but filling the positions with competent people and very determined people.

In addition to that he said the Board approved the issue of motivating the staff and that in terms of mindset of the staff, they are relatively there now – they pay salaries on time – on the 22 of every month, compared to previously when salary payment sometimes even rolled into another month – all that de-motivates staff.

Dr. Jibao spoke also on other administrative measures that have to do with intensifying NRA’s enforcement drive in its audit and they have also introduced a couple of reforms; ASYCUDA will move from the old ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA World which is actually helping with a lot of declarations, creating sanity within the Custom system and on the policy front, the Ministry of Finance is doing well to reduce exemptions.

 

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