By Joe Dinga Pefok
From March 1, 2015, the new Government reform on airport tax procedures in Cameroon will go into force.
Even though the amounts to be paid for international and local flights have been maintained at FCFA 10,000 and FCFA 1,000 respectively, the reform will, henceforth, modernise and lessen the procedural bottlenecks which travellers were subjected to.
The reform procedures, contained in the 2015 Finance Law, was the subject of a one-day seminar organised in Douala on February 23, by the General Directorate of Taxes and the Ministry of Finance.
Participants were representatives of airline companies in Cameroon, the Ministry of Finance and the General Directorate of Taxes, among others.
In his opening address, the representative of the Director General of Taxes, Isaac Richard Ngolle, stated that the reform to pay the airport tax was not the idea or work of Government alone.
According to him, it was the airline companies that complained and objected to the old method. Ngolle said the Government responded to the complaints and introduced the new reforms.
The reforms are coming after a series of meetings between the Government and representatives of airline companies in Cameroon.
According to Ngolle, after intense deliberations between Government and airline companies, both parties agreed on a transitional period of two months, to ensure that the companies are ready to implement the new reform procedures and travellers are adequately sensitised on the changes.
Disadvantages Of Old System
Presenting a paper on the application of the reform procedures, obligations by airline companies to make monthly declarations of the tax, and sanctions to be meted out to defaulting companies, Maximilien Nono, a Senior Inspector at the Fiscal Legislation Unit, General Directorate of Taxes and Ministry of Finance, asserted that the old system subjected travellers to a plethora of inconveniences, as many of them had to queue up at airports to pay the tax before boarding their planes.
He said such procedures often delayed flights and the consequences were borne by the airline companies.
Travellers, visitors and tourists, he went on, also complained about the inconveniences of having to queue up at airports. This method, they said, was causing them a lot of embarrassment at the various airports in Cameroon.
Nono said, with the new reform procedures, travellers will no longer be queuing up to pay the tax, since it will be included in the cost of their air tickets.
Nono further averred that airline companies will, henceforth, be responsible for collecting the tax. At the end of each month, the company will calculate the total money collected for that month and pay it into State coffers before the 15th of the succeeding month. The payment, he maintained, must either be by bank transfer, electronic transfer, or by certified cheques. Cash payment is prohibited.
Any airline company that fails to pay in the money within the time limit or makes false declaration on the amount collected, will face severe sanctions, according to the law enforced.
Meanwhile, the only persons exempted from the tax are cabin crew members, hostesses, stewards and passengers on “direct transit”.
Ngolle and Nono said the new tax reform procedures will lead to the modernisation and simplification of payment by passengers.
This, they added, will contribute to the amelioration of the business climate in Cameroon.