Liberia: Bills to Increase Taxes on Alcohol, Gambling, Tobacco Introduced

Maryland County Senator James P. Biney has introduced two major bills – the Health Workers, Teachers, and Security Personnel Incentives Act, which seeks to levy an additional 5% excise tax on alcoholic beverages, gambling equipment and tobacco products.

The two bills entitled “The Health Workers, Teachers, and Security Personnel Incentives Act of 2021” and “The  Tourism Boost Act of 2021” received their first readings by the Senate on December 9.

In a press conference over the weekend at his Capitol office, Senator Biney called on his colleagues to give due consideration to the proposed bills, which he assured are intended to generate more revenue that will be subsequently directed to Government workers who are providing critical services to the Country. 

Specifically, the Maryland County Lawmaker said, the Health Workers, Teachers, and Security Personnel incentives Act seeks to levy an additional 5% excise tax on alcoholic beverages, gambling equipment, and tobacco products.

According to him, revenue accrues as a result of this levy will be deposited in an escrow account that will be supervised by a nine-member board to include, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority, Ministry of Commence, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Health Workers Association and the National Teachers Association.

This body, according to the Maryland County Lawmaker, “will be presided over by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and will periodically pay incentives to health workers, teachers, and security personnel using revenue collected as a result of the five percent levy,” Senator Biney averred. 

He declared that as a result of this levy, the price of a bottle of beer may increase by L$15 to L$20, Stout will increase by L$10 to L$15, and Whiskey by US$1.50 to US$2.

The Maryland County Lawmaker further explained that additional money to be accrued from the use of gambling equipment and consumption of tobacco will enhance the revenue envelope to provide incentives to these civil servants who work beyond normal working hours and make perhaps most sacrifices but are underpaid primarily because of the challenges the Country faces.

Concerning the second bill, Senator Biney revealed that said bill seeks to grant visitor visas upon arrival in Liberia. 

In a detailed explanation, he intimated that the proposed law, if passed, will make it legal for citizens from any country that does not have a Liberian Embassy or Consulate to receive a visa upon arrival in Liberia. “This bill will also attract tourists and ease visa restriction to enhance investment and raise revenue.”

Senator Biney disclosed that he has contacted Montserrado County Electoral District 8 Representative, Moses Acarous Gray, to co-sponsor the proposed bills in the House of Representatives for due consideration.