By Mamadou Dem

Mr. Essa Jallow, Deputy Commissioner General and Head of Domestic Tax at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Bala Jassey, proprietor of Mobicell and Mr. Assan Jallow, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, yesterday appeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission to testify on various matters under their purview.

Mr. Jallow was summoned in connection with the Multimedia Gateway Incorporation (MGI) and on the Management of the International Gateway, while the Agric. PS was summoned in connection with the Japanese grants and Mr. Jassey appeared to testify in connection with works made by his Companies on the management of the International Gateway.

In his testimony, Mr. Essa Jallow told the Commission that they could not find the files of the Global Voice Group, TELL and Oratus, except that of MGI, in their system; that taxes are levied on Companies based on the certificate issued to them and that he had the annual returns and summary of tax for MGI from 2014-2016.

According to him, with regard to Corporate Tax, MGI paid D749, 049.46 while on the Value Added Tax (VAT) and PAYE, they paid D4, 034,417; that the total liability for MGI’s corporate tax was D9, 200,252.97. He however said that tax exemption can be done legally if the president feels that it is in the interest of the State, without going through GIEPA. The tax authority officer explained that the Commissioner General has the power to ask any registered Company to pay tax.

Mr. Assan Jallow, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, also reappeared to produce certain documents such as the Japanese grants.

According to PS Jallow, some of the assistance rendered by the Japanese Government was Food Aid and Technical Assistance amongst others. When asked by Counsel Bensouda whether he had brought a list of all consignments of Japanese aids, Jallow responded that he did not bring the file and was not aware that it should have been submitted to the Commission; but that he had the financial statement with him. At this juncture, PS Jallow disclosed to the Commission that the total deposit at the Central Bank was D212, 876,695.42 but that he did not know the total value of Aid the Japanese Government sent to The Gambia. Mrs. Bensouda asked him to provide to the Commission the list of all the Japanese Aids to the country and was further asked to provide the data about what was supplied to KGI and how much KGI paid to the Central Bank. He recalled that the contract with KGI for the supply of Japanese Aid, started in 2012 and they received four consignments; that the consignments with KGI were done without any agreement.

Mr. Bala Jassey, Chief Executive Officer of Mobicell Blue Ocean Wireless Company, reappeared and was reminded by Counsel Bensouda that he had submitted a folder to the investigators.

At this juncture, the said folder was shown to him, and was given to him to go through. Jassey confirmed that he submitted the said folder to the Commission. The folder together with additional documents produced by his lawyer, Malick Mba’I, were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Mr. Jassey was reminded about the management service agreement and he confirmed that he had it. He was further asked whether he had other management service agreements with MGI and Mobicell, which he confirmed.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda asked him whether the Commission received the service offer, and he said they did not submit any service offer to MGI; that there was no specific document outlining the service offer and that he has never set his eyes on the agreement between MGI and the then Government. He further disclosed that they did some work at the office of the former president but that he never introduced General Soul Badjie to the MGI representative; that he visited Kanilai once and accompanied the delegation to the said village; that he did not attend the meeting during which he was at the Sindola Hotel.

At this juncture, the witness was asked by Counsel Bensouda to furnish the Commission with his qualifications.

Sitting continues today.

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