“We Temporarily Shut Down Semlex for 14 Days” Says GRA’s Commissioner General
Gambians woke up with the news that The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) has on Monday shut down the company that is responsible for the issuance of Identity Card, Passport and other national documents, Semlex which has been temporarily shut down for refusing to pay tax for almost 2 years.
The closure of the company was prompted due to failure of producing an authentic document showing that the company has a tax exemption called Special Investment Tax (SIC) which the company promised to present to the GRA since at the initial state.
The Commissioner General of Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Yankuba Darboe told the press that GRA has 2 years ago allowed Semlex to operate in the Gambia based on the information they got from the company indicating that they will be granted a tax exemption called Special Investment Certificate (SIC).
“And based on that information; we allowed them to operate for six months period and we didn’t see the certificate and they were not forthcoming”, He explained.
Darboe stated that after Semlex failed to present the SIC certificate they still extended it for 1 year. He added that the company was reminded after one year of operation to fulfill their tax obligations as they are supposed to do their filling on quarterly basis.
However, he went on stating that due to the expectation GRA has on the SIC, GRA advised Semlex to make an internal assessment on filling their tax which they did and submitted to the GRA.
“After doing that, we asked them to come forward and do the payment.
They still asked for extension again; which we were kind enough and allowed them”. He said.
The commissioner general further explained that the GRA gave Semlex an extension of three months which the company still came back to ask for another three months again.
“I think they just pushed us to the wall; we have gone to a point where we are now saying that you have to come and settle otherwise we will have to take action”. He stated, “Because the law is there for all of us and nobody is above the law; we all have to respect the law”.
Darboe said that be it individual, partnership or company doing business in the country you should be aware that paying tax is a most expect if one has duty waver or SIC then the GRA will respect that from the authority. He added that if one doesn’t produce these two documents, then they are up large to pay tax on time.
“As far as we are concern, we have followed the law to the last point we can go in allowing them to operate in the country for more than a year without them paying tax”. Darboe argued, “Now we have got to a point where we say; now you have to pay if you don’t pay we will have to take an action”.
He continued stating that this law is not about Semlex alone but it is how they operate as an institution. He explained that, it is only the President of the Gambia who can exempt a person of group from paying taxes and that is should go through normal procedures.
Darboe was reluctant to disclose the amount that Semlex owe to GRA stating that it is confidential and because they are on their first step of solving the issue with the company and that negotiations are on with relevant stakeholders in solving the matter therefore they will wait till after 14 days if the matter is not solved then they will take another step.
Essa Jallow, Deputy Commissioner General of GRA said they have series of negotiations with Semlex on the tax issue and advised them many times but to no avail. He said the last notice GRA sent to Semlex expired 31st January, 2020 and there was no response from them.
“They have completely ignored our notice and the law and due to their failure to comply with us resulted to the shutting down of the company”, he stated
by Adam Drammeh.