The Chief of Kombo South district in the West Coast Region, Sherif Aja Janneh, has raised great concern about the huge arrears that his district owes to the Brikama Area Council in rates and taxes.
The Kombo South Chief was speaking in an interviewed with this reporter, during the annual assessment conducted within the district on all plots of land.
It had been discovered that Kombo South alone owes Brikama Area Council D3.8 milion in rates and taxes, which he said is a major cause for concern to him as the chief of the area, as the council depends mainly on this revenue to plough back to the taxpayers in the form of development projects.
It should be the responsibility of every citizen to ensure that rates and taxes are paid to their area council, and on time, for the smooth implementation of the council's service delivery mandate, the chief added.
"Defaulters should not be compromised with, as this revenue will go a long way in assisting the council immensely to deliver its social responsibility to the communities, for the benefit of the Gambian people," he stated.
According to the chief, land disputes, environmental cleanliness and failure to pay rates and taxes remain top of his agenda in the Kombo South district.
He said one of the major factors contributing to this huge arrears of rates and taxes owed to the council is land owners based abroad with their partners, some of whom come to The Gambia only on holidays and do not care to pay their rates and taxes to the state.
He cited areas like Sanyang were some land owners did not pay their rates and taxes for the past 17 years, which he described as "very unfair to the citizens".
The chief said these are some of the issues that the district authority needed to look into, to explore possible means of using quick methods to ensure that the defaulters are brought to justice.
Chief Janneh revealed that this arrears cover from 2010 todate, adding the campaign has started to ensure that defaulters pay their dues to the Brikama Area Council, to avoid delays in implementing development projects.
He commended the farmers for paying their rates and taxes on time, but was quick to complain about the slow payment by civil servants for their rates and taxes in Kombo South district.
The chief advised the physical planning authorities and alkalolus to be very careful in giving out documents, and not to prepare documents for anybody without going to the ground to see the land in question for authentication purposes.
He also advised the district authority members to be mindful of the issue of duplication of documents for land owners.
He challenged the people, particularly the civil servants in his district, to pay their rates and taxes on time, adding these are the monies the council would plough back to the community in the form of projects and programs in addressing their needs and aspirations."We need development, and this cannot be achieved without the participation of the citizens," he added.
He said council cannot be effectively functional in responding to the needs of the people, without the people paying their rates and taxes.
He commended the Brikama Area Council for the firm stance in ensuring that the councils use taxpayers' money for development programmes. Author: Abdoulie Nyockeh