The Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has applauded the Swedish Government for its many development initiatives in Liberia, while requesting continuing technical and other support to strengthen the Authority and enhance its effectiveness in the collection of domestic revenues.
She made the statement when the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Lena Nordström paid a courtesy visit to the LRA in Paynesville on Friday, and held discussions with the LRA’s senior management team.
The Ambassador was accompanied by Ms. Regina Svanberg. Ms. Svanberg is on a six-month internship at the Swedish Embassy.
In her presentation to the Ambassador, LRA Commissioner General Tamba presented a profile of the Authority, including details of its five-year Corporate Strategic Plan, its partnership with donors and development partners, and its revenue collection performance in the current fiscal year (FY 2015/2016).
She indicated that unlike in other countries in the region, revenue administration in Liberia is hampered by the lack of modern tax administration systems such as e-filing, e-payment, and automated tax registers.
These systems, she explained, would significantly help in promoting voluntary compliance among taxpayers, and in preventing leakages from the national revenues.
The Commissioner General identified inadequate funding as being the unrivalled challenge to LRA’s revenue generation capacities.
She explained that funding constraints prevent LRA from overcoming the significant hurdles to sustainable revenue collection, such as the low rate of voluntary compliance among taxpayers, seen in a myriad of activities, including under-declaration/valuation of incomes and properties, misclassification, false declaration, and the violation of LRA’s administrative procedures.
The Commissioner General also singled out the poor housing and office facilities and insufficient mobile equipment for Rural Tax and Customs Business Office staff as being serious challenges to rural revenue collection.
Ambassador Nordström inquired about LRA’s domestic revenue mobilization strategy, and the relative performance of key tax types which currently underpin domestic revenue.
The Ambassador indicated that she was impressed with the strong leadership and participatory work culture of the LRA and underscored the importance of taxes in nation-building.
She said that taxes are very important in Sweden and that the Swedish government and people take the national obligation of paying taxes seriously.
Ambassador Nordström stated that the Swedish Government has and will continue to lend support to Liberia and disclosed that her country has earmarked US$158 million for its new programs in Liberia over the next five years, with governance being one of the core areas of focus.
The LRA Commissioner General, along with her executive team, led the Ambassador and her staff member Regina Svanberg, on a guided tour of the LRA banking hall, Taxpayer Service Center, and the MIS Data Center, before departing, a press release said.