LRA to Seize Under-declared Goods

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The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) will seize goods that are under-declared by their owners at the various points of entry across the country.

The decision comes after LRA realized that many owners of goods passing through Liberia’s ports of entries were not honest in declaring their goods, thus cheating the Liberian government of its lawful revenues.
Declaration of goods means telling authorized tax collectors what a business owner has in a parcel to cross into another country.

“The Liberia Revenue Authority is cautioning taxpayers, especially importers of goods and owners of cargo to fairly declare every item loaded in containers entering the country, as it remains resolute in the collection of every lawful penny due the Government in line with the Liberia Revenue Code,” the LRA said.

Having also introduced new customs systems, the LRA’s centralized assessment system and inspection exercise has discovered that business owners are unfairly declaring goods and other items imported.

According to the LRA, its investigation has revealed that goods are under-declared at the Freeport of Monrovia and other points across the country.

The LRA said further that “All goods will be valued based on the actual costs, for the collection of the lawful revenue as required by the code.”

The LRA warned business owners to desist from cheating the Government of Liberia, stressing that the new inspection activities currently ongoing at the Freeport of Monrovia are meant to strengthen the LRA’s verification for under-declared items and not intended to overcharge business owners as being claimed by some importers.

The statement quoted the Commissioner General, Elfrieda Stewart Tamba as saying that the LRA will not provide sanctuary for importers who are in the habit of under-declaring their goods or involved in smuggling.

Commissioner General Tamba indicated that as the LRA strives to collect lawful revenue for the development of the country, it is the social responsibility of business people and others to engage in fair and transparent business practice.
Meanwhile, the LRA in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has begun the final validation of Liberia’s Draft Domestic Resource Mobilization Strategy.

Domestic Resource Mobilization is tax revenue collected by revenue authorities and private savings in domestic money and capital markets.

The first phase of the validation began last weekend in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County where stakeholders from ten counties participated.

The objective was to give stakeholders the opportunity to review and make final inputs into the draft DRM strategy and harmonized a genuine national strategy to drive Liberia’s domestic resource mobilization agenda.

The participants, among others, highlighted the need for key measures such as effective monitoring system for revenue collection to avoid corruption, the introduction of a massive tax education campaign, including the full implementation of the country’s tax laws, as some of the vital steps, if taken by government, will help in expanding Liberia’s tax net.

According to them, there is a need for the tax authority to boost the strength of its manpower across the country and empower its local tax officials. This, they said, will buttress enforcement, compliance and accelerate revenue collection and growth.

Suggestions from across the floor encouraged the government to prioritize the agriculture sector, expand tourism, and develop a proactive policy framework for a system oriented approach for natural resource management as a means of building a firm foundation for domestic revenue mobilization to support national growth and sustainable development.

For his part, an international consultant, and Senior Technical Advisor on Domestic Resource Mobilization, Momodou Foom, said there is a need to promote a holistic push for sustainable capital investment in the local economy.

Serving as the lead facilitator during the DRM validation exercise, Mr. Foom said the locals themselves must exert efforts to invest in the economy.

He said such step plays a major role in the domestic resource mobilization process and serves as a key pillar in facilitating revenue enhancement and economic growth.

The domestic resource mobilization strategy effort led by the LRA and partners is in line with a global crusade highlighting DRM as pivotal for African countries to finance the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Action Agenda (AAA) 2063.

SDG 17.1, in particular, is the target set to track and strengthen domestic revenue mobilization in countries through taxation as a key means of implementation while enjoining the donor community to support domestic capacity building for tax and other revenue collection.

Meanwhile, the LRA has yet to react to such public concerns.

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