One of the reasons stated for the increase in NRA collection is the short term revenue drive introduced in the last quarter of 2015. The tax authority targeted companies like Shandong Iron and Steel Group (SISG), Timis Corporation and state institutions like Sierra Leone Airport Authority (SLAA) and Sierra Leone Cable (SALCAB) among others who owed the agency billions of Leones.
“For the first quarter of 2016 there was a spillover effect from the enforcement action in 2015 December. By the close of 2015 we did a lot of enforcement and that had a multiplier effect on the first month of January,” he said.
In January alone, total collection was Le 209 billion compared to Le189 billion collected in February showing a slight drop in revenue in February.
Despite exceeding the first quarter, revenue performance in the mining sector was poor. The tax agency failed to meet its first quarter target for the mining sector by Le9 billion. SISG has started operating its Tonkolili project but the work is still not at a large scale. Timis Corporation and other mining companies that used to pay huge amounts in terms of royalties and other taxes have not commenced operations.
“In 2015 quarter 1 we were able to collect about Le16 billion from the mines but for the same period in 2016 we only collected Le.8.2 billion,” he said.
NRA projection for the second quarter of 2016 is Le637 billion. The enactment of The Finance Act of 2016 is a major consideration for reviewing the projection upwards compared to the first quarter. The new Pay As You Earn (PAYE) threshold of 35 percent from 30 percent and the removal of discretionary waivers to government ministries, departments and agencies will boost revenue collection from the second quarter going forward. President Koroma signed the Finance Act of 2016 on March 17, and the law comes into effect this quarter.