By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe, has told members of the press that “there will be no tax increments this year” at their first press conference of the year 2024. Speaking from the GRA Headquarters in Banjul on 2nd January 2024, Commissioner General (CG) Yankuba Darboe, highlighted that “there are few revenue measures we are taking to broaden the tax base so that those who are not within the tax bracket will come into it for us [GRA] to be able to achieve our target.”
CG Darboe revealed that GRA collected D15.6 billion in 2023, surpassing their target of D15.2 billion. Towards the end of 2023, GRA announced that after a meeting with the Central Government, their 2024 target for revenue collection is D19.2 billion which marks an increase of D4 Billion from the 2023 target.
Although CG Darboe made a strong statement about the non-increment of taxes, he highlighted that his office is not responsible for increasing or decreasing taxes. According to the Commissioner, increasing or decreasing taxes “is the responsibility of the ministry of finance and that has to go through the National Assembly who have the prerogative to accept or reject it”.
Our research has unearthed the 2024 Budget Speech read out by the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon Seedy S Keita in December 2023. The speech contains a section on the “proposed revenue measures for 2024” which details the tax regime for the year 2024.
Withholding Tax on Rental Income
A sub-section under this area focuses on the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) and its tax regime for the year 2024. According to the budget speech, the GRA will “introduce a withholding tax on rental income by MDAs [Ministries, Departments and Agencies] and all businesses under the category of large taxpayers as prescribed below;
- A person occupying a property used for commercial purposes shall at the time of making rent payments withhold tax on the rental income at the rate of 15%.
- A person occupying a property used for residential purposes shall at the time of making rent payments withhold tax on the rental income at the rate of 8%”.
The Minister’s 2024 Budget Speech noted that the taxes are to be “introduced” which indicates that these taxes did not exist in the past. The taxes mentioned above will affect rent income as landlords, Ministries, Departments and Agencies will be obliged to withhold some amount from the rent income they receive. This new withholding tax will almost certainly be transferred onto customers paying rent and “this provision shall only be applied by MDAs and established private corporations”.
Increase on Sin Taxes, Gambling, Cigarettes and Alcohol
In what the government has branded as a ‘sin tax’, there shall be tax increases on gambling, cigarettes and alcohol. Sin taxes are usually applied to activities and commodities which are considered bad for the public and the environment’s health.
The 2024 Budget Speech highlights that GRA will “increase the pool and betting tax on the winnings on betting, gaming, lottery, prize competition and gambling from 10% to 30% with effect from January 1st 2024”.
From 1st January 2024, a series of increases in excise tax will affect the following alcoholic imports;
- “Spirits from D245 per litre in 2019 to D260 per litre in 2024,
- Beer from D135 per litre in 2019 to D150 per litre in 2024, and
- Wine from D210 per litre in 2019 to D225 per litre in 2024″.
Similar to alcohol, tobacco will also see increases in excise and environmental tax this year and these include;
- “Increase specific excise tax on cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos from D35/pack to D40/pack in 2024;
- Increase the environmental tax on cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos from D5.22/pack to D7.22/pack in 2024;
- Increase the excise tax on other tobacco products from D420/kg to D450/kg in 2024;
- Increase the environmental tax on other tobacco products from D200/kg to D220/kg in 2024;
- Introduce an additional 10% ad valorem excise tax on all imported tobacco products;
- Introduce an excise tax of 15% on all electronic cigarettes, vapour and gadgets;
- To continue the Gambia’s commitment under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and ECOWAS Excise Directive on Tobacco Products, we will introduce a Tobacco Control Levy at D0.50 on cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos”.
Other Tax Increases
Two more taxes have been identified under the GRA section on the Government’s 2024 Tax regime and these involve an increase in excise tax on used vehicles and flour. On used cars, the Minister of Finance revealed that the increase “is intended to discourage or reduce the importation of old vehicles into the country which pose environmental hazards”.
The GRA is instructed to “progressively increase the excise tax on used vehicles that are more than 15 years old. Used vehicles up to 20 years old will attract a 20% excise tax and vehicles up to 30 years old will attract a 25% excise tax. And any vehicle older than 30 years will attract a 45% excise tax”.
However, the resumption of taxes on flour could harm the price of bread in the country. In 2021 the price of bread increased from D7 to D10. Now the government plans for GRA to “resume the collection of domestic excise duties on flour at 5% of ex-factory price from 1st January 2024”.
True or False?
For the Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to state that there are no tax increases in 2024 is completely false. Besides several other service fees which are set to increase that are outside the jurisdiction of the GRA, it’s clear that other taxes directly under the purview of the GRA have already been increased since the beginning of 2024.
The tax increases which are under the purview of the GRA will affect rental income, gambling, alcohol, cigarettes, used cars and flour. It’s therefore clear that the GRA CG Yankuba Darboe’s claim that taxes will not be increased in 2024 is FALSE.
Below is a compiled list of GRA tax increments according to the 2024 Budget Speech.