Local businesses in the Gambia are not the least happy with the recently introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) machines, which were imported into the country by businessman Muhammed Jah’s Quantum net company. Their displeasure is centered around the machines’ “worthiness, lack of reliability and proper maintenance” in the event of system glitch issues. The VAT machines were said to have been imported from Germany. The Ministry of Finance is reported to have spent D36 Million dalasi in purchasing the VAT machines. But the machines are not popular in the market. Business owners said the machine are not that effective and once it is reported faulty, it is hard to get it fixed. This is the machine that the regime uses to calculate VAT sales taxes leveled against consumers and business owners at cash registers.
The Value Added Tax was launched in the Gambia, following the amendment of the nation’s Income Sales Tax policy. VAT replaces the Sales Tax, which was being applied in Gambia’s Tax regime. ECOWAS member states are using VAT to regulate Income Tax, but a local business owner in Banjul said the Gambia has purchased the wrong machines to Tax businesses and consumers. The businessman also said he doesn’t trusts the reliability of the VAT machines currently imposed on Gambian businesses.
“The VAT machines are forced on businesses while the same taxpayer supply the machines through single sourcing. It was single sourcing. The purchasing of the VAT machines were never channeled through GPPA for fair bidding. The GPPA avoided the provision for fair bidding by awarding the contract to Mr. Jah,” said a Gambian businessman who wished to remain anonymous.
The VAT machines are new to Gambian businesses, whilst other countries haven’t use it for years before accepting the VAT machines. Why is it that the Gambia accepted the machines provided by Mr. Jah without contacting countries such as Kenya, who waited for years before accepting the VAT machines? I don’t think the Gambia is ready for VAT machines. The money that was wasted on this VAT machines could have been used to buy drugs for our hospitals,” he added.
The Gambia government purchased one thousand VAT machines from the vendor who was contracted to procure the machines on behalf of the regime. Muhammed Jah of Quantum net was said to have been responsible for the procurement of the machines. Mr. Jah himself could not be reached for comment to state his own side of the story on the controversy surrounding the VAT machines.
The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) is in charge of Income Tax Administration in the Gambia. The concerned businessman said he is appealing to the President Yahya Jammeh to look into the plight of business owners because the VAT machines is driving many businesses to close their stores.
” Many businesses are closing down because we are not familiar with the machines. Business owners ought to have been properly sensitized about the machines; its operation; usage; and how to facilitate its timely repair in the event the machines are faulty,” said the businessman adding that he has made repeated request in the past to have his VAT machine fixed, but to no avail. He said GRA is collecting millions from business owners and yet they cannot facilitate the timely fixing of the machines.
Source: Freedom News, Gambia

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