NRA Sets Record Collects Le2.2 Trillion In 5 Months

 

Looking at what is being accomplished at the National Revenue Authority (NRA) under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Jibao in furtherance of the ‘New Direction’s’ aim of financing development largely from domestically generated revenue, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio will be rubbing his hands with satisfaction at the giant strides the Authority has made in revenue collection since its new Commissioner General took up office on the 6th June, 2018.

The reason why President Bio will feel very elated over the success so far achieved by the man he chose to head the country’s revenue collection Authority is because Dr. Jibao promised him in the interview he had with him that he will not disappoint his employer who he promised to realise his objective of increasing domestic revenue collection from 3 to 9 trillion Leones over the next five years. Ultimately, this has resulted in domestic revenue making up 20% of GDP.

According to Dr. Jibao, he took over NRA during what he called a very challenging period when the Authority’s finances were in bad shape as it owed suppliers over eight billion Leones. Most significantly, staff morale and productivity were very low. Additionally, NRA did not have the right managerial component for effectively carrying out its national mandate as there were a lot of vacancies at the managerial level including the non-existence of a Deputy Commissioner General.

Thus, even before Dr. Jibao could think of how to maximize revenue generation, his first assignment was to install a proper governance structure in the Authority by, according to him, not only filling the vacant managerial positions but importantly with very determined competent people.

A department of government that requires a lot of highly technically trained personnel to function efficiently, Dr. Jibao has also recruited a raft of middle level managers and technocrats.

Alone, Dr. Jibao could not accomplish NRA’s staff restructuring. He needed the active cooperation of the NRA Board which approved his request for improved conditions of service for staff as way of motivating them to work assiduously to achieve the Authority’s mandate under the ‘New Direction’ administration which included prompt payment of salaries by the 22nd of every month. Significantly, NRA now gets its 3% commission from the Ministry of Finance promptly as it at the same time has a very good working relationship with the ministry and the president who maintains a keen interest in happenings at NRA through weekly briefings from the CG.

Additional internal reforms were also required to ginger up the authority’s performance level. This included intensifying internal audit as well as drastically reducing the handling of receipts by staff in cash. ASYCUDA has been migrated from the old template to ASYCUDA World which has enhanced collection, policy and revved up declaration, thereby creating sanity within the custom system. Additionally, NRA has on the verge of introducing the Electronic Cash Register and the Integrated Tax Administration System. The use of ICT for better tax governance is what gives NRA the impetus to fully incorporate digitalization to among other things streamline tax compliance as well as make the cost of doing business cheaper to the advantage of importers and businesses.

So now, after engaging extensively with the tax-paying community to enlighten them about the need to pay taxes to the government, as well as plugging many tax evasion loopholes that existed in the collection system mainly due to non-compliance, let us now look at how these fundamental managerial reforms implemented by Dr. Jibao at NRA has resulted in record revenue intake.

Comparing revenue collected in the first quarter of 2018 to this year’s first quarter, revenue has jumped up by 51%, meaning that from January to May this year, NRA raked in Le2.2 trillion which according to Dr, Jibao exceeded all what was collected for the first two quarters of 2018 when NRA collected Le216 billion less.

Overall, from June 2016 to now, revenue collection has boomed by 35%. What is more significant is that NRA can now reasonably forecast weekly revenue collection which Dr, Jibao says is now over Le100 billion per week?

Professionally, Dr. Samuel Jibao is an economics and taxation expert with wealth of experience with over 15 years experience in the field of taxation at both administrative and policy levels, having worked at the NRA as Deputy Director of the Monitoring, Research and Planning Department, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Centre for Economic Research and Capacity Building. He has also lectured at the Africa Tax Institute at the University of Pretoria and published several work on issues of taxation.

He is also an ICTD researcher whose main area of interest is public economics with special focus on taxation. He holds a PhD in Economics and has done extensive research on tax, both at the national and sub-national levels.

He has published a number of research focusing specifically on Sierra Leone, including: Rebuilding Local Government Finance After Conflict: The Political Economy of Property Tax Reform in Sierra Leone and the political economy of property tax in Africa: Explaining reform outcomes in Sierra Leone.

Asked in one interview why his interest in taxation as an issue, he replied that interest in tax stems from his understanding and conviction that taxation is a cornerstone of broad-based development and a secure, efficient and sustainable way to finance Africa’s development. It provides a stable flow of revenue to finance development priorities such as strengthening health, education, physical infrastructure, and is interwoven with numerous other policy areas, from good governance and formalizing the economy, to spurring growth.

Over the past few years before his appointment as NRA CG, Dr. Jibao worked extensively, in collaboration with Wilson Prichard of the ICTD, on property tax reform measures and tax compliance issues at the local government level in Sierra Leone. He noted that property tax has the potential to be both a primary source of local government revenue in low-income countries and a critical component of achieving the broader governance-enhancing objectives of decentralization. By providing local governments with expanded revenue, he said, property tax promises not only expanded service provision, but also greater decision-making autonomy for local governments.