MONROVIA – The government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), over the weekend climaxed the first of several planned phases of the national Value Added Tax (VAT), awareness in Bomi and Bong Counties; and it is being supported by the World Bank.
Its objective is to broaden the consumption of the tax-base, facilitate tax compliance, create an overall transparent tax system, discourage under-evaluation and smuggling, self-policing, promote neutrality-does not distort economic decision and contribute to ECOWAS regional fiscal integration
It seeks towards getting citizen’s views, recommendations and key findings on the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) system, and to replace the current GST in consonance with ECOWAS Directives and how to transition VAT with compliance from the Regional Protocol A/P2/7/96 Establishing VAT in ECOWAS Member States as Liberia is now the only country in the sub-region that has not yet transitioned to VAT.
Speaking at the opening session, Assistant Commissioner for Domestic Tax Department at the Liberia Revenue Authority, Hon. Darlington Y. Talery explained that the collection of taxes is a major vehicle to transform Liberia in terms of development across the country.
According to him, if schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and other facilities across the country are built, the government needs to collect taxes both indirectly or directly. If educational facilities are constructed, the easiest way for this to happen is through tax collection.
‘’ If school, hospital, road, bridges and other facilities across the country are built, we need to collect taxes both indirect or direct and if we want to construct educational facilities, the easiest way for this to happen is through the collection of taxes.’’ he stressed.
He noted that the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) is very critical and crucial for the expansion of government fiscal space to enable the government to provide goods and services for its citizens.
Moreover, he said the VAT process is to ensure the government generates more revenue and provides the necessary services for all Liberians, which can be done when taxes are paid.
For his part, Director of Indirect Tax Unit at the Ministry of Finance and development Planning Mr. Robert Q. Dwuye, Jr., Lead Technical Focus person for VAT pointed out, the participation and inputs from superintendents, Town-chiefs, Religious leaders, petty traders and civil society organizations are key for the awareness exercise and hoped they spread the message across other counties.
Dwuye indicated that the introduction of VAT will enable the government to provide more goods and services for its citizens resulting from the increase in its revenue basket.
He thanked development partners for the positive steps taken and called for more intervention like logistic support for the smooth implementation of VAT in Liberia.
Participants from different working groups, local authorities of the Business community, Civil Society organization, Religious groups, petty-traders participated in the deliberations and agreed to support transitioning from GST to VAT.
The week-long validation awareness of a Value Added Tax (VAT) was attended by Superintendents, Town-chiefs, Religious Leaders, Petty Traders and Civil Society Organizations from Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Nimba, Rivercess and MARGIBI counties.
The nationwide validation awareness was as well attended by ECOWAS Consultant, Senior Staff from the Ministry of Finance and Liberia Revenue Authority in collaboration and support from World Bank as Development Partner, and The Project Management Unit from the Ministry of Finance.