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Sierra Leone News: Milton Margai College to pay NRA Le2b

The administration of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET), was yesterday subjected to queries from the Public Account Committee of Parliament for what it considered as “sheer neglect” because it cannot pay income tax to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) for the past three years, totaling Le 2 billion.
Such attempt by the polytechnic not to pay what is due to the state came to the attention of the Parliamentary Public Account Committee, when the Audit Service-Sierra Leone undertook its audit exercise for the periods as mentioned, realizing that the institution had not met its tax obligations for three good years and other backlogs accrued by the institution.
Dr. Dennis Kargbo, Principle of MMCET, when squeezed members of the committee, explained that indeed they do deduct NRA taxes and other obligations but had not paid because, according to him, the institution has been going through several challenges relating to finance to activate their operation as an academic entity.
Dr. Kargbo maintained that they have been inadvertently using these taxes that should have been paid to NRA, on other “areas of major challenge” faced by the college.
Moreover, Dr. Kargbo noted, the institution had been so reliant on an “unwritten” promise made to them by the government, that it will address NRA tax issues of all polytechnics. Based on such promise, they have been oblivious of their tax obligations to NRA and other institutions, for which reason they had accumulated such a colossal amount.
The Deputy Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah, who is also a member of the committee, opined that the college’s failure to meet its tax obligations is a breach of statutory provisions and NRA rules regarding the payment of taxes, which enables the government to run the affairs of the state.
Hon. Hassan Sheriff buttressed that such excuse, as proffered by the Principal would not suffice, considering the fact that those relevant taxes should be deducted and paid to relevant authority (s) immediately after  those monies are collected by the institution. Therefore, evading such obligation is very serious issue and the institution should do everything within its ambit to normalize the financial discrepancies.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Eric Koedoyorma warned that the MMCET administration should be concerned as to what decision the committee might take in relation to its tax evasion act. He recalled that when they toured the provinces lately as part of their oversight role, they were very tough on the issue of tax evasion, stating that they may likely be of similar nature this time round.
The MMCET was therefore given a week to prepare and submit a plan as to how they pay the NRA income tax of Le 2 billion and other backlogs. Dr. Kargbo was warned that if they fail to meet that deadline, they committee would be forced to act otherwise.
By Poindexter Sama
August 08, 2013

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