By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The 2017 finance law has been designed to promote socio-economic development through tax clemencies in some key sectors touching directly on the lives of Cameroonians.

Article 120 of the General Tax Code, GTC, gives some privileges to the private education and health sectors with exonerations in the payment of business licences, landed property tax, company tax, VAT on school fees and other accessory services, etc.

On the promotion of the use of local materials, only MIPROMALO, the Local Materials Promotion Authority, is eligible to benefit. 

Article 123 of the GTC exonerates them from VAT. Drinks produced and conditioned from the use of exclusively local materials are also exonerated. Meanwhile, article 122 exonerates importers of agricultural inputs and equipment from VAT while the transfer of land for agricultural purposes is not taxable.

Conventions for loans geared at agricultural activities as well as the land tax are exonerated.

“These measures were taken after concerting with operators of the private sector and considering the current economic trend,” said Roland Atanga, Head of Division for Legislation and International Relations at the Directorate General of Taxation, DGT.

Atanga was speaking at the just-ended PROMOTE where these measures as well as those simplifying the procedures and securing tax revenue were explained.

The debate was moderated by Alain Blaise Batongue, the Executive Secretary of GICAM.

Harping on Law No 2016/018 of 14 December 2016 on the Finance Law for 2017, Atanga said the tax incentives outlined in the law were in line with the orientations on fiscal policy prescribed by the Presidency of the Republic.

He noted that institutions promoting youth employment through contracts of determined duration as well as those open for pre-job practical training; reduction in rates for landed property acquisition; activities geared at reinforcing local development; setting up economic activities in disaster zones; urban transportation and the promotion of research and innovation, are some of the sectors enjoying special tax exemptions as provided for by the 2017 finance law.

The event was also an occasion for the Head of Division for Studies, Planning and Tax Reforms, Nicolas Hiol, to present measures on the simplification of procedures and securing of tax revenue.

Hiol highlighted the two main missions of the tax administration to include the effective mobilisation of tax resources to finance development and facilitate payment of taxes as well as promote tax compliance.

According to Hiol, the DGT embarked on a better organisation of the tax administration by reforming the Large Tax Unit, the Small and Medium Sized Tax Centres and the Divisional Tax Centres.

He also mentioned a better management and a more secured index file of tax payers.

In what was referred to as the second generation reforms, Hiol cited the fight against fraud and the rationalisation of exonerations.

On major reforms in 2017 with regard to the mobilisation of tax resources, Hiol said they are reinforcing surveillance of recalcitrant tax payers as well as reinforcing their collaboration with the Directorate General of Customs. 

In a closing remark, the Head of Inspection of Tax Services in the DGT, Jean Paul Menguele, said there are no longer taboo subjects in the lexicon of the tax administration.

Noting that there may be some exceptions, Menguele said the general trend in the tax administration today is that of being friendly to the tax payers and providing all the necessary information they need to know in order to take informed decisions.