Pres. Sirleaf Blames Government for Poor Revenue Generation
Monrovia – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Johnson Sirleaf has expressed fear over Liberia Tax Law which she said is creating difficulties for the country’s revenue generation.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah – [email protected]
She noted that Liberia’s tax base is too narrow stressing if nothing is done to widen the tax base, the Country will not move forward.
She made particular reference to the tax policy; tax laws, tax administration and management, Risks and revenue reporting system among others.
President Sirleaf said the law is very difficult to understand, something that has posed serious challenge to her comprehension As a result of low levy paid by citizens.
“The tax law is very difficult to understand, I am trying myself to understand some of the rationale behind the Real Estate Tax, I haven’t been able to understand it and been asking some question on it myself as to why we think LD$5.00 should be paid for one acre of land.”
Speaking at the Liberia Revenue Authority Revenue Symposium held at the Monrovia City Hall Tuesday, Sirleaf explained that Liberia is behind the curve in improving its tax law which has resulted in people paying low taxes on land and other things.
This she maintained has provided the chance for people to claim several acres of land, supposing that the land right law will help create a change if taken into effect.
“For God sake, Five Liberian Dollars, What kind of tax system is that? No wonder why people amass 7,000, 10,000 acres, because if they were to pay they wouldn’t amass that kind of land,” President Sirleaf said.
The Liberian leader noted that most of government revenue generation comes from outside sources due to limited revenue generation in the country.
“In this respect, I’m glad that with the LRA going out, who are the people that are to pay taxes? Do we know? From all over the country, we have a tax law, so we know exactly who our tax payers are and everyone else know exactly who our tax payers are.
She said citizen’s compliance to revenue generation in the county is very slow and could take another trend if action is taken towards the LRA nationwide survey conducted on payment of taxes.
According to Sirleaf, it is unfortunate that citizens in the country boost of paying taxes when they don’t.
President Sirleaf told the gathering that 142% of the country’s budget comes from external sources and the need to have domestic revenue to cover-up cannot be overemphasized.
“Many times we always like to say we are very proud of the fact that we pay taxes. But the real truth is, we don’t. Because a 142% of our budget comes from outside, comes from external resources.”
“They contribute 142%, so until we can make sure that we have domestic revenue to cover our own development agenda, we will not go anywhere,” Sirleaf registered.
The Liberian leader believes changes in the external environment may not allow Liberia to find the kind of support it had been receiving and it was important that the country now do things for itself to generate more revenue.
She stressed the need for Liberian to shoulder major parts of its burden of revenue generation in order to speed up developments.
“Right now the external environment is changing; you will not find the kind of support that we’ve being getting and this is why it is important that we ensure that we begin to do things for ourselves, that we get our taxes in right so that we can be able to carry the burden for our own development,” Sirleaf intoned.
President Sirleaf challenged the authorities of the Liberia Revenue Authority to ensure that some level of punishment accompanies those non-compliant in collecting lawful revenues. She informed the gathering that this was not anything new in her call to the Liberia Revenue Authority.
President Sirleaf called on the Liberia Revenue Authority to ensure that all government officials, including assistant, deputy, ministers, as well as heads of autonomous agencies and public corporations, the legislature and judiciary should be made to pay all taxes owed government.
The Liberian leader however commended Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba and the LRA family for the wonderful work done thus far in collecting lawful revenue.
Earlier, in her welcome remarks, the Commissioner-General of the Liberia Revenue authority (LRA), Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba welcomed participants, including President Sirleaf, representatives of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others for supporting the one-day day symposium.
Panelists at the one-day Symposium included Madam Mary Baine, Technical Advisor, Assistance, African Tax Administrator Forum, Former Commissioner-General, Rwanda Revenue Authority who made a presentation on “Domestic Resource Mobilization,” Robert Kamel, Assistant Commissioner for Transformation & Modernization, LRA, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, ECOWAS-Representative, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyan, Country Director, UNDP, Liberia, and Mrs. Margaret Kilo, Resident Representative of the African Development Bank Liberia Country Office, who spoke on “Strategy for Strengthening Domestic Revenue Mobilization, respectively.
The one-day symposium brought together at least 42 participants from at home and abroad.