Gov’t to Double Tobacco Tax, Charge 1 Cent Per Minute on Phone Calls

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Beginning July 1, the Government of Liberia will more than double the excise tax on all tobacco products if the National Legislature approves the Special Amendment to the Liberia Revenue Code (LRC) as proposed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In addition, every caller or phone consumer within Liberia is expected to pay US$0.01 (1 U.S. cent) per minute on all calls.

The imposition of excise of $0.01 per minute on phone calls was proposed by the President to support the 2016/2017 Fiscal Budget.

In her communication to the Legislature, the President also wants the Legislature to increase the excise rate on alcohol beverages from 35% to 45% and more than double the excise rate on tobacco products, from 35% to 80%.

The Chief Executive further requested the adjustment in the GST rate from 7% to 10%; a revision of Section 16 to grant Special Investment Incentives to certain businesses; as well as a revision on Section 904 on the Advance Payment or Turnover Tax.

The special amendment to the LRC, according to President Sirleaf, is to provide incentives for additional investment in the economy and the direct revenue implication of US$30.1 million to support the FY16/17 National Budget.

“Mr. Speaker, in my message transmitting the FY16/17 Proposed Budget, I mentioned to you that certain assumptions in the resource envelop have been placed under ‘Contingent Revenue’ because some legislative actions will be required in order to realize those revenues,” the President wrote.

She added: “Honorable Speaker, I will appreciate if these actions can be taken along with the passage of the National Budget so that development priorities as outlined in the budget can be fully implemented.”

Meanwhile, the House’s Plenary has mandated its Committees on Ways, Means and Finance Development Planning and Judiciary to review the Special Amendment to the Revenue Code of 2011 which calls for the imposition of one cent (US$0.01) per minute on phone calls and the other five amendments.

The decision taken by Plenary was reached Tuesday, May 24, 2016 during the 31st day sitting of the 5th Session following the communication from President Sirleaf.

Following the reading and floor debate, Plenary agreed on a motion from Rep. Samuel Kogar of Electoral District 5 Nimba County that the instrument be forwarded to the Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning to review and advise the House’s Plenary in two weeks.

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