Finance Minister, Amara Mohammed Konneh at a press conference yesterday in Monrovia, vowed to declare a robust tax collection scheme aimed at revamping the country’s revenue sector.
The Minister declaration is made in the face of revenue shortfalls against which the Ministry has launched “stringent technical, administrative and legal measures to recover revenue for the remaining of fiscal year,” (2013/2014.)
As part of the measures, Minister Konneh disclosed that the MOF has set up additional revenue mobilization task forces to ensure that the exercise yields the expected result.
“We have increased our tax awareness; reorganized our tax administration personnel to ensure the most effective distribution of talent and responsibility to meet our revenue targets going forward.”
Additionally, Mr. Konneh said that the MOF has identified and met with “delinquent taxpayers to give them time to settle their tax obligations, and we are at the same time, working with the Ministry of Justice, and the Board of Tax Appeals to prepare litigations (law suits) against those who fail to pay their taxes.”
As part of the exercise also, the Minister said these short-term measures are intended to improve revenue collection, with specific emphasis on “spot verification of taxpayers to validate their payments.”
Also, there are plans by the MOF to institute a major crackdown on delinquent taxpayers, which include publishing the list of persons, businesses and public institutions with outstanding tax obligations; and initiating legal proceedings against them to recover taxes; enforcement of internal controls at the system level and stronger coordination within the team to mitigate risks, undertaking an anti-smuggling operation.
This aspect of the collection scheme, Mr. Konneh said, will take place on the customs side by monitoring of transhipment through the border, and conducting rigorous (thorough) post clearance audits to close revenue leakages resulting from dishonesty among some taxpayers.
“With these actions and plans, we expect improvement in the collection of taxes on income, goods and services,” Minister Konneh declared.
As of the budget performance (2013/14), Minister Konned noted among other things that there was a lot of work to do, and all cost a lot of money to be made.
Development, he said, is a difficult and very expensive undertaking, and therefore, the approved budget for this year amounted to US$582.9m, but was revised downward to US$560.3m, based on assessed revenue risks.
However, he said, “some of our projections for the various kinds of revenue were overly ambitious, and were based o the assumption that the good performance of last year would, within each category, continue.”