Monrovia – The World Trade Organization (WTO) protocol and other laws ratified two months ago by the Legislature stand the risks of withdrawal as critical question are being raised by some members of the House of Representatives who are questioning laws that have been passed under the gavel of Speaker Alex Tyler.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
On Thursday Representatives Henry Fahnbulleh of District #4 Montserrado County raised inquiry about an item on the agenda of the House of Representatives from the Senate informing them about an endorsement to House’s Engrossed Bill No: 14 entitled; “Liberia Tax Amendments Act Of 2016 Amending The Liberia Revenue Code Of 2011”
The issue raised by Representative Fahnbulleh was buttressed by few of his colleagues all of whom are members of the Anti-Tyler bloc.
But members of the Pro-Tyler bloc responded to their colleagues’ claims and stated that any attempt to do that will be setting precedent for the return of the amended revenue code and other laws passed during the crisis at the Legislature.
The matter was briefly discussed and seized by the Presiding officer, Hans Barchue.
In July, the World Bank Group and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) co-hosted policy meetings and a capacity building workshop on Liberia’s new transfer pricing regulations from June 13-17, under the Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project.
The Government of Liberia submitted an act to the Legislature to amend the revenue code which would impose new taxes and increase some existing taxes.
The move is intended to raise government’s revenue to meet high government expenditures despite promised austerity in the midst of an economic recession. Global commodity price decline of Liberia’s major exports, iron ore and rubber, means less income from traditional trade sources.
Most governments would respond to such situations through economic diversification while cutting back on expenditures. But the Liberian Government response has been to impose more taxes as the solution.
One of the proposals of the amendment is the imposition of one cent per minute excise tax on mobile calls. This is in addition to the current 15% GST paid which is more than double the 7% GST rate generally applied.
Such a move would not only lead to an increase in the price of telephone calls, but would force telecom companies to end free mobile calls due to imposition of the proposed excise tax.
The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in its quest to source additional tax revenue has made a case that the proliferation of free calls is denying the Government much needed revenue.
Hence, tax each minute of mobile call and whether or not it is free and revenue will increase.
The House of Representatives which was been under immense pressure to concur with the Senate to ratify the protocol for Liberia’s accession to world Trade Organization protocol ratified the protocol putting the country on the right path to become a member of the WTO.
Foreign diplomats including Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs all recently called on Liberia to ensure that they have ample opportunity to succeed as the country enters its second decade of post-conflict stability.
Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) will provide a foundation for establishing the rules-based system for growing the economy, attracting foreign investment, and securing that future for the country’s youth.
In the wake of the pressure the House of Representatives to ratify the agreement ahead of the June 15, deadline date for Liberia’s admittance, the body concurred with the senate to ratify the WTO protocol.