Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leonean Appointed Chairman of VADA

The Value Added Tax Administrators in Africa (ADA) has appointed Alfred Akibo-Betts, Deputy Commissioner of the Domestic Taxes Department of the National Revenue Authority (nra), as chairman of Its executive committee. His appointment was endorsed and officially announced at the closing ceremony of the 16th VADA Conference held for the first time in Sierra Leone on November 29th At the Place Resort in Tokeh.

During the handing over ceremony, the outgoing chairman of VADA, Nyalando Kassera from Tanzania, described Akibo-Betts as someone who contributes actively towards VADA's success. He said his appointment came at a crucial point in VADA's history as the organization prepares to launch its first strategic plan for 2014-2016, which the new chairman is expected to implement.

In her statement, the Commissioner-General of the NRA, Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara, said the appointment of Mr. Akibo-Betts is welcome news, adding that Sierra Leone will endeavour to achieve the objectives laid out in the strategic plan with the help of other member states. She disclosed that even though the NRA has served in various capacities at VADA conferences, including representing West Africa on the Executive Committee at the 13th annual conference in 2010, this is the first time the country is hosting a conference and is chairing the organisation.

Madam Kallah-Kamara noted said VADA's core objective of increasing capacity building, information and data exchange among member states is vital for reducing the reliance of member states on external funding to finance development projects. She explained that the Value Added Tax (VAT) is called Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Sierra Leone to aid public awareness on the meaning and mechanics of the tax. She said GST has contributed immensely to revenue mobilisation and has considerably reduced government reliance on donor support.

VADA, which was formed in 1998, comprises of fifteen (15) African countries and one of the member countries hosts the annual conference every year to exchange knowledge and experiences among member states. This helps them tackle several challenges of implementing the tax in the continent.

During the two-day conference which started on Thursday 28th November, VAT experts from different member countries spoke on topics around the theme, "Maximising VAT Revenue in an Integrated Environment for Accelerated National Development". Presentations included country-specific aspects for experience sharing.

The conference ended on Saturday with a tour of historic sites to showcase Sierra Leone's tourism potential to the delegates.

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