David Farhat, Liberia’s former Finance Minister and 2005 presidential hopeful, has called on the government to reduce taxes in order to enable the business community to provide smooth business activities in the country.
According to him, business will fail if government persists with its agenda of high tax increments.
The business community, under the leadership of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) recently staged a protest against government action to increase taxes, which many complained were unfairly high, diminishing their earnings.
PATEL said they were also concerned about the constant harassment and arrest of street vendors whose goods are seized by the Liberian National Police, calling on the government to address the situation.
Mr. Farhat spoke yesterday during an interview with reporters at his office on the University of Liberia (UL) campus, where he recounted the business community’s support to national government in terms of paying taxes.
“Government and business people need to work together so it’s important for them to engage into discussion to ensure that our business people are pleased. When things are difficult for the business people or community, the government lightens the burden all over the world,” he noted.
When business people have problems, he said, it’s important for the government to listen and ensure that their concerns are addressed through identifying the way forward in helping the people of Liberia.
“Business will fail if government is persistent. When the business community fails, unemployment will increase in Liberia, which has the propensity to hamper the living conditions of everyone or more people and would lead to a situation of unrest for the government,” he said.
Mr. Farhat further noted having immature people in government was responsible for some of the filthy decisions that continue to affect the business community and the people of Liberia in general.
Today, he said, Liberian business people are now going to neighboring countries to buy, because of the increment in taxes, stating that many years ago, neighboring countries were coming to Liberia to buy, including used shoes, clothes, cars among others.
“We have business people going to Guinea and other places to get used cars when Liberia has a seaport. We can make these neighboring countries to come to Liberia and purchase those goods when the government reduces taxes,” he said.
He said the business community in Liberia was helping the government to reduce the high rate of unemployment while at the same time paying taxes, adding that “Good business environment is cardinal for Liberia’s development.”
“Government needs the private sector highly to enable it to run smoothly. This does mean that government must tolerate everything from the business community, but Businesses make profits through which they pay their taxes to government and also employ people around the world,” Mr. Farhat said.
According to him, in the situation where things are good with business people, they will always be willing to pay their taxes, which support the running of government, adding that, “I hope that the government is not willing to see Firestone close.”
“If Firestone closed today, the government will breakdown or suffer, because of the lack of its ability to run the plantation. The government needs to be flexible with business people now and work to ensure that Liberia has a strong private sector,” he said.