Several people this press spoke to were not loath to paying tax but raised several questions in relation to what they described as blatant disregard for the Local Government Act 2004 by the KDC.
The implementation of Property Rate also known as property tax in Kambia by a company Credit Recovery Agency (CRA) contracted by the KDC to collect property tax on the KDC’s behalf has brought about controversies following the CRA’s action to shut houses of people they tagged as defaulters. Generally, this action was described by people this press interviewed as contravening Part VIII Section 71- 80 of the Local Government Act 2004.
According to Section 69 (1): “The property rates provided for in the estimates of a local council in any financial year shall be a uniform rate on the assessed annual value of assessed buildings and shall be a single rate in respect of each class of assessed buildings.”
The same Section 69 (3) says: “A local council may, by resolution approve payment of rates in two or more equal installments to be paid within one fiscal year.”
“Are the property rates in Kambia and Port Loko uniform and how aware are the rural people, who are vastly illiterate about Part VIII of the LGA 2004,” is the question on the lips of most people in the community?
Furthermore, section 74 of the LGA according to sources close to the council, has never been put into practice by the KDC and this section states: “A local council shall keep a Rate Book as provided for in Part II of the Fifth Schedule and the Rate Book shall be open for inspection during office hours.”
Has the Kambia District Council effectively complied as provided for in Section 78 (1), is another question residents in Kambia are asking.
When AYV contacted the out gone Chief Administrator Alfred Nadieu Samura he refused to comment. The current Chief Administrator declined making any comment but agreed that the provisions in Section 78(2), (3) and (4) are in force and that they had received complaints from taxpayers but that there is little they could do as a council because it is what the law says.
Furthermore, according to our investigations, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the KDC and CRA stated that at the end of the fiscal year the Kambia District Council receives 55% of the amount collected while the contractor Credit Recovery Agency (CRA) collects 45% from the total property tax collected. It is this arrangement which has angered many residents of Kambia who are saying that it is like the KDC is just putting taxpayers’ money into a private coffer.
The KDC is accused of this and other alleged breaches to Part VIII of the Local Council Act 2004.