Amidst declining donor support to Liberia, which is causing strains in the operations of the government, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said it is important for Liberians to become aware of their tax obligations.
Delivering the State of the Nation address on Monday, President Sirleaf lauded development partners engaged with government since 2006, saying the time has come for Liberians to take the initiative in their country’s development through the robust payment of taxes.
“Liberia has benefitted and is grateful to our development partners for the high level of support in official development assistance recorded for 2014/2015 at US$720 million, representing 36 percent of a GDP of US$2 billion,” she said.
However, “we should realize that this exceptional support will not continue nor is it the basis for sustainable development over the long term. We must embrace a higher level of tax consciousness and compliance especially on real property for which we continue to realize far less than the potential. Simply put, Liberians must pay taxes.”
The issue of tax payment is a huge concern, with government continually indicating that more people are evading taxes, especially property taxes. This led to the extraction of the Revenue Division from the Ministry of Finance and the formation of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
Though the President is raising alarm about the delinquency in tax payment, the LRA is boasting of huge revenue collection. The LRA, according to its Commissioner, General Elfrieda Tamba, collected more revenues last year than was expected.
In the 2014/15 Fiscal Budget, the LRA was mandated to raise US$635.23 million, but the Authority exceeded the amount by US$8.22 million, netting a total of US$643.46 million.
Commissioner Tamba said though the collection of revenue is not an easy task, the LRA can meet and surpass its annual target through its dedicated staff.
Meanwhile, the President said the Executive has issued six Executive Orders, 70 to 75: “Five of these extended previous orders are suspending tariffs on rice; exempting the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation from custom duties on certain products; suspending tariffs on Forestry and
Agricultural and Agro-Processing Equipment, Live Animals for Breeding and Agricultural Seeds; exempting selected entities from customs duties on fuel. The sixth was for the implementation of Liberia’s post-Accession Plan to the World Trade Organization to further inclusive growth and poverty reduction.”