The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) says the Ebola crisis has unfavorably affected revenue collection in the country.
Addressing the LRA’s maiden press conference in Monrovia last Friday, the Commissioner General Mrs. Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, said the Ebola crisis undermined revenue collection in July and August.
The LRA boss disclosed that the authority had benchmarked itself to collect US$122 million in the first quarter of 2014, but exceeded its benchmark and collected over US$124 million, about US$2.6 million in excess.
She, however, noted that the targeted collection declined in July during which time the LRA collected only 35% [US$43.4 million] of its target.
Performance dipped further in August from 35% to 28% [US$34.7 million] in August. Performance level meanwhile recorded growth in September rising to 37% [US$45.8 million].
For grants, Commissioner General Tamba said the LRA was to collect US$13 million but only US$12.6 million came into the country due to certain trackers that were not met by the government or a particularly Ministry that is responsible for it.
Mrs. Tamba called on government to invest more in the LRA as an institution in order to strengthen it to collect needed revenues to finance development projects across the country.
According to her, government needs to invest more in the LRA as an institution, because the institution has two components, the human assets and the pie assets. And “We believe with that kind of investment which we anticipate, we will have an increased tax motivation and integrity of staff improvement.”
The LRA Commissioner General told newsman that the revenue collected by the entity is used directly by the government to fund public services to benefit all citizens including residents and non-residents as well as legal and non-legal “because government uses them to provide some basic services, such as, building schools, medical services, electricity, good road facilities.”
Commissioner General Tamba re-emphasized the government’s need to exert more effort in attracting investors into the country through tax reforms, if it wants to achieve economic growth and enhance the people’s standard of living.
“As our target,” she said, “we seek to execute our mandate effectively; we look, we own and want you to judge us, as we go along in executing the revenue code fairly; and that [commits] the revenue administrators, the citizens and residents and all stakeholders to certain basic rights and responsibilities,” she told journalists.
LRA is responsible for the administration of taxes and customs duties in Liberia. The main function is the assessment, collection and remittance to Government of taxes and duties due under the Act it administers, she declared.
“Our goal is to optimize revenue mobilization for national development through the delivery of quality service to taxpayers and other stakeholders. We therefore urge our taxpayers to comply voluntarily by declaring and paying all taxes and duties appropriately.”
Mrs. Tamba added that the vision of LRA is to be a world class revenue administration, recognized for professionalism, integrity and excellence. “Our mission is to mobilize revenue for national development in a transparent, fair, effective and efficient manner.”
“As part of our modernization programme,” she continued, “LRA pledges to implement more modern and innovative strategies to enhance revenue collection.
The Commissioner General used the occasion to encourage all taxpayers and the general public to honor their tax obligations for better roads, improved electricity, education, health services and provision of other amenities to the people of Liberia.