It has come to light that a company contracted to issue ID cards and driver’s licence in The Gambia, Semlex has been shut down by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) for non-compliance with tax laws in the country.

According to the Commissioner General of GRA, Semlex had failed to pay taxes and had repeatedly requested from the tax authority to be given time to secure a tax waiver from the government to no avail. Pushed to the end of their tether, GRA slammed a temporary ban order on the company.

While we are not privy to the finer details of the ‘build-operate-and transfer’ (BOT) contract the government entered into with Semlex for the production of the national documents, we avail on them the need to comply and pay the proper taxes to the Gambian state. The payment of taxes is not optional and should be enforced properly to ensure that the state has the necessary funds for national development. It is the taxes that are collected from individuals and companies that become the national wealth, which is then used to fund all activities of the government.

It is clear that all the people who live in the country – be they rich or poor – are required to pay taxes and not make any excuses. Companies that do business in the country have a responsibility to pay taxes for the development of the nation. It is criminal to avoid or evade the responsibility to pay taxes.Even in Islam, it is well-established that the payment of taxes is not optional. The giving out in charity does not replace or negate the obligation to pay taxes.

Similarly, whoever is doing business and making profits in The Gambia is required to comply with tax laws and ensure that he or she pays on time and at the right rates. There is no excuse for not paying taxes. If corporate bodies and individuals all engage in tax avoidance and evasion, the state will be bankrupted.

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