Liberia Revenue Authority Impounds Ghanaian Vessel Smuggling Goods into the Country
BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa County – A Ghanaian vessel carrying an assortment of alcoholic beverages and mining equipment has been impounded at the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County after it docked at an unauthorized pier.
The vessel which arrived at the pier at 2:00AM on Tuesday had onboard 221 cartoons of Faxe 10% and 70 cartoons of Origin and an assortment of mining machines/equipment.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah lamented that it is due to these smuggling activities that there are currently so many illicit mining activities going on in various parts of the country.
He said the joint security was called to assist in investigating the incident to determine the actual amount in taxes evaded and other details.
He said the LRA has intelligence that similar illegal ships often smuggle goods into the country via Marshall, Sinoe, Greenville and other areas where there is little or no monitoring going on.
According to Mr. Nah, the goods were reportedly bought by Liberians who paid all the required taxes in Ghana, and hired the Ghanaian-owned vessel to smuggle them to Liberia, with the intent of evading taxes.
The seized vessel and goods are currently in the custody of the LRA, pending full investigation.
He said the LRA is making arrangements to mount cameras that can be accessed from mobile phones at various borders to help monitor activities at those borders in order to safeguard government’s revenue.
“The owners will face penalties in keeping with the revenue laws,” he said. “Smuggling is a major criminal offense under the revenue code of Liberia.”
Government is losing millions of dollars annually in revenue as a result of smuggling by some business people who use porous borders and other unauthorized entry points for cross border trade.
The Commissioner General has often spoken of porous borders hampering revenue collection. He said borders between Liberia and Guinea from the Lofa belt and Liberia and Sierra Leone are so porous that people can easily smuggle goods into the country. He lamented that the limited numerical strength of Revenue collectors and inspectors cannot permit them to monitor all entry points.
Commissioner Nah further explained that importers of cars often chose to make Guinea a transit point where they will pay below regular tax since the car is in transit, then they smuggle it into Liberia. “That’s why you hear people say it is cheaper to send your car to Guinea and drive it to Liberia. It’s because they smuggle those cars in the country,” he said.
In February 2019, the LRA impounded a truck with a consignment of Heineken beer that was discovered in Gardnersville. The Heineken beer were smuggled from Guinea into Liberia.
When authorities were called on the scene, it was revealed that the consignment belonged to an unknown business entity and not Abou Jaoudi & Azar Trading Company which is the only company the company licensed to import Heineken in Liberia.
Liberia has 176 entry points with neighboring countries. According to the Liberia Immigration Service, only 46 of these entries are guarded.
Porous borders can be blamed for illicit trades in Liberia. These trades range from illegal arm trade, drug trafficking and human trafficking, etc. Business men and women from Liberia and neighboring countries also use these illegal entries to smuggle goods into Liberia in their quest to evade taxes and immigration requirements.