By Jeneba J. Bangura, Commissioner-General, NRA

BARELY three weeks after I was elected Vice-Chairman of the Board for African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Women in Tax Network (AWITN), I have been given the enviable opportunity to head the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in my country, Sierra Leone on 4th December, 2023. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NRA is a woman, in the person of Mrs Tuma Jabbi-Gento Kamara, and the Deputy Commissioner-General 1 is a woman also, in the person of Mrs. Ann-Marie Baby Harding; both seasoned tax lawyer and public administrator/accountant respectively. These appointments exemplify that the political leadership of HE President Julius Maada Bio has trust in women. We have no option but to reciprocate that trust.

As a woman who has been in the public sector both in and outside of Sierra Leone for the better part of my career, I acknowledge the value of the subject matter expertise in one’s job, and I will argue that the right attitudes are key in helping shape the outcomes of the expertise in leadership and management positions. We will therefore bring to this challenge of leading the NRA three key attitudes:

Firstly, we will be more result-oriented and focus on national interests. Studies such as a 2020 publication The Prudent Entrepreneurs: Women and Public Sector Innovation, have shown that when women are faced with the dilemma of either achieving results or following rules, we are more likely to choose the former. But we do this with prudence and higher concern for the general/communal benefits, and welfare of other people. As a revenue generation organisation led by women, we will put premium on raising the needed funds for which will be used for the well-being of Sierra Leoneans.

Tuma Jabbi-Gento Kamara, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Secondly, we will be more open to new ideas and creativity and willing to challenge the status quo. The stereotype that men are more receptive to creative ideas has been challenged by many women who have found themselves in leadership positions. We will be no exception to those women who have broken that glass ceiling. I led and supported all of the digital transformation initiatives at the NRA such as the migration from ASYCUDA++ to ASYCUDA World; automation of the Duty Waiver Approval Process; full automation of Domestic Taxes Declaration and Payment Processes and the implementation of the Electronic Cash Registers during my tenure as the only Deputy Commissioner-Generalwhich ended on July 10th, 2023 when HE the President appointed me Deputy Minister Finance 1. Ideas are held by people irrespective of education, age, tribe and gender. We will bank on every idea and innovation both within and outside NRA to solve our national revenue mobilisation policy related implementation and operational challenges.

Ann-Marie Baby Harding, Deputy Commissioner-General 1

And finally, we will be more risk averse when those new ideas may put NRA in peril and into disrepute. Generally, women are prone to risk aversion. We will follow this conventional wisdom. While risk taking is a popular venture of success stories especially in business, caution will be given to taking risks that are determined to have negative externalities especially on the broader national economic management eco-system and specifically on the key mandate of the NRA.

With these three attitudes and the cooperation of the dependable team I will reunite with at the NRA, we will reciprocate the confidence entrusted in us to lead by HE President Julius Maada Bio.

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