The European Union business community in The Gambia was on Saturday exposed to the country's new tax - the Value Added Tax (VAT) - set to be implemented by January 2013, during a day's workshop held at the Ocean Bay Hotel and Resort in Cape Point, Bakau.
The day's synergy, organised by the European Union Delegation in The Gambia, in collaboration with the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA),was meant to provide the EU business community and their Gambian counterparts information on the introduction of the Value Added Tax, that replacesthe current sales tax, which phases out this year.
Addressing the forum, the European Union charge d' affaires in the country, Agnes Guillaud, noted the importance of the workshop to the EU's business community. Shedisclosedthat the EU is supporting the government of The Gambia in this important reform through its government programme in the country. The said programme, she told the gathering, will also support other public finance management reforms, including the important areas of public procurement and governance framework for the public enterprises.
"Let me also highlight the presence of Stew Scott, an EU-funded IMF technical assistant, who is assisting the GRA in the complex task of setting up a Value Added Tax and who might also intervene during the open discussions," she announced.
The EU diplomat underscored that the nexus between tax reform and the improvement of the business environment is critical in making it easier for businesses to invest trade and create jobs. "Under its regional ECOWAS commitment, the Gambian authorities intended to introduce VAT by January 2013.This will be key driver to the tax reform programme in The Gambia," she concluded.
The IMF resident representative, Meshack Tjirongo, for his part, explained that an IMF technical assistance diagnostic mission in May 2010 found that revenue administration in The Gambia has undergone major reform and that the formation of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) in 2006 provided a solid foundation for introducing best practices.
"Recent tax administration improvements provide a solid foundation for a successful VAT launch by January 2013. In this regard, the IMF Technical Assistance Mission designed a challenging but achievable 30 months' programme of tax policy reform and revenue administration," he disclosed. He acknowledged that a number of reform initiatives have since been implemented with IMF technical assistance.