John Baimba Sesay-China
The Director of Performance Management and Service Delivery (PMSD),Office of Chief of Staff, is quoted by a local newspaper to have said the National Revenue Authority-NRA was among the State Owned Enterprises that performed exceptionally well in 2015.
The PMSD is there to amongst other functions, “use performance contracting as a catalyst to reengineer key Government processes, through institutionalizing the system in the public service so as to achieve the goals of the A4P.” Its scope of work covers government ministries, local and district councils and state owned agencies, amongst others.
It works towards, but not limited to ensuring “a more productive, effective and efficient public sector; improved public service delivery; enhanced management capacity of the public sector…” (http://www.statehouse.gov.sl/…/office-of-the-chief-of-…/1201)
Given the above facts, it will be acceptable to conclude, what they have said of the NRA is quite impressive, taking into account its (NRA) strategic relevance to Sierra Leone’s development from the framework of assessment and collection of revenue. The NRA is indeed Sierra Leone’s lifeblood.
I submitted, in a 2009 article-“The Need for Economic Independence”, that there are challenges we must try to surmount, with our passion for sustainable development and economic growth. Prominent among them, I had said, taking ownership of efforts aimed at achieving the benchmarks for development.
In so doing, we should be practically able to generate internal revenues, and used judiciously towards our domestic growth processes. Overall, there has always been the need for a paradigm shift from completely depending on donors for our development to being able to fund some of our development drives.
Over the years, especially during the period 2007 to date, we have ensured this shift in our model development funding. By 2010, government increased its annual direct transfers to Local Councils as well as ensured an increase in its contribution to donor funded road projects.
The NRA has been a major player in all of this. Created in 2002 as a post war development institution, the NRA serves “as a central body for the assessment and collection of national revenue…” It has had an impressive performance especially in the last seven years of its existence. By 2003, revenue collection was at range of 314,896 billion Leones. Today, the institution collects trillions of Leones for the country.
The last seven years has seen the introduction of the Domestic Taxes Department (DTD) and ASYCUDA, all contributing to an increase in revenue. DTD, a merger of GST, Income Taxes and Local Excise Unit of the Customs and Excise Department, allows greater flexibility, better focus on service delivery and helps streamline and simplify processes and procedures and reduces compliance burden on taxpayers. The automation of customs operations, through the ASYCUDA ensures timely, reliable and cost efficient service to stakeholders in the clearance of goods and trade facilitation.
The institution continues with measures aimed at increasing revenue collection; intensification of audit; effective enforcement and a robust outdoor debt collection.
These and other successes must have been coming as a result of enabling environment created by government for the institution. The current government should be commended for allowing the platform for governance institutions to function effectively.
President Ernest Bai Koroma should be credited for giving that institution the needed value and support. Irrespective of what penal actions taken by the NRA against individuals and business houses that default in their tax payment, without an overriding political support, the NRA will find it difficult to operate effectively.
Also, the workforce at the institution deserves commendation. The governing body of the institution- the Board of Directors and the institution’s management continue to stand the test of time. With global economic challenges, we cannot wait but do all we could in a bid to meeting our economic needs for country growth.
Though with huge public expectations over the years, one could say, overall, there has been an impressive institutional performance by the NRA.