LRA Boss Calls for Concerted Effort in Combating Tax Fraud

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Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has called for a concerted effort among all stakeholders in combating tax fraud and ensuring revenues protection for the people, a press release from the LRA said yesterday.

The Commissioner General noted that the trend via which US$50 to US$60 billion was leaving Africa annually through illicit financial flows must be immediately reversed.

In 2015 former South African President Thabo Mbeki (when he headed the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa) reported that US$50 to US$60 billion was leaving Africa annually through illicit financial flow.

“This trend must be reversed,” said Commissioner Tamba, who is also Chairperson of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF). “The drive to reversing this trend,” she added, “must commence with us and now.”

The Commissioner General made the call Tuesday (Jan 17) when she spoke at the opening of a 3-day stakeholders training under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at the Golden Gate Hotel in Paynesville. The OECD promotes policies that seek to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world by providing a forum in which governments work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

The Commissioner General welcomed Sivasankaran Pattanam, Tax Policy Analyst from the OECD and the Global Forum For Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes for the “timely facilitation the important capacity building and sensitization mission to Liberia”.

The workshop is being held as a ‘Technical Assistance’ to Liberia on the ‘Next Round Peer Review and Other Global Forum Initiatives’ relative to the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The technical assistance is important for Liberia as it aims to accomplish two goals, CG Tamba noted.

One, it will seek to strengthen collaboration and sensitization amongst all local stakeholders in order to enhance preparedness of Liberia to ensure passage of the next Round of Peer Review to avoid the blacklisting of the country for lack of transparency in tax matters including the exchange of information for tax purpose and the implementation of a new legal framework. Secondly, the technical assistance will strengthen the capacity of the LRA in the field of exchange of information for tax matters.

Liberia, the CG noted, is committed to amending its applicable laws to meet the Global Forum standard on bearer shares including tax transparency of information and also to facilitate the exchange of information on tax matters.

As a demonstration of Liberia’s commitment, she noted, the Country ensured its passage of Phase 1 of the Forum’s standards in June 2016, established Exchange of Information Office in the Competent Authority – the Domestic Tax Department of the LRA, as well as the signing of the Statement of Intent to join the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Agreement of Mutual Assistance in Tax Administration Matters (AMATAM), coupled with the pending signing by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning of ATAF Mutual Assistance in Tax Administration.

Among other issues, the Commissioner General said the automatic exchange of information will provide many advantages including the detection of tax evasion and off-shore wealth, deterrence from future non-compliance and encourage timely compliance by taxpayers as well as support domestic synergies among tax administrators in developing countries in their domestic resource mobilization strategies.

The Commissioner of Domestic Tax Darlingston Talery underscored the importance of the of the gathering and welcomed participants, encouraging them to take full advantage of the three-day exercise in building their capacities and understanding on the Information Exchange initiative.

Sivasankaran Pattanam, Tax Policy Analyst of Global Forum Secretariat gave an overview of the Technical Assistance on Next Round Peer Review and Other Global Forum Initiatives, while applauding the LRA for steps it has taken.

With participants are drawn from the LRA, MFDP, Law Reform Commission, and Ministry of Commerce among others, the training will further enhance local capacity to more effectively combat, inter alia, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning, illicit flow of capital, and money laundering, thereby facilitating the collection of lawful revenues.

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