The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under its Tax Transition Support Program (PATF) on Monday held the first forum on Liberia’s tax expenditure report on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The forum, which started from May 22-24, in Sinkor, brought together representatives and policymakers from leading government financial institutions, including the Ministry of Finance and Development (MFDP), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the National Investment Commission (NIC) to discuss issues surrounding the new tax instruments for Liberia.
However, tax expenditure reporting is vital to ensure that tax reliefs – exemptions, deductions, reduced rates and deferrals that benefit particular sectors, businesses or individuals – can be scrutinised in the same way as public spending.
PATF is a key initiative of ECOWAS aimed at supporting member states in their efforts to reform their tax systems. Through PATF, ECOWAS provides technical assistance and capacity building to member states, helping them to develop more efficient and effective tax systems.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, the Director of Indirect Tax at the MFDP, Robert Quaye Dwuye, welcomed the participants and urged them to listen keenly to the experts from ECOWAS PATF because what they will be learning over the past three-day and the data collected will be put to help Liberia’s economy move forward.
"So, while we are here for this all important training today, I would like to ask all of you to take this training seriously," said Dwuye.
He used the occasion to commend ECOWAS for the opportunity and further expressed the hope that the exchange of ideas would be good for them as a country to align with the ECOWAS tax expenditure system.
In remarks, Jules Tapsoba, Lead Tax Expert in charge of Tax Expenditure at ECOWAS-PATF, disclosed that the tax reporting system will provide members states with tax management tools to enhance their performance in mobilizing tax resources in order to strengthen the measure of the tax transition program undertaken by member states.
Tapsoba said the whole issues of tax expenditure reporting is to establish a coherent program of tax and customs reforms to transition from gateway to domestic taxation in order to compensate for possible gateway revenue losses generated by the opening of the EU market and the conclusion of international trade agreements.
Whilst appreciating the effort of the critical stakeholders for the management of tax expenditure in the ECOWAS member’s states, the Lead Tax Expert then urged the government of Liberia to align their report and management of tax expenditure in line with the adopted text of the sub-region as a pilot to mobilizing domestic resources.
Tapsoba said the tax expenditure report will also help identify key areas where the government can improve its revenue collection and ensure that businesses are paying their fair share of taxes. It will also provide valuable insights into the spending patterns of businesses in Liberia, which can be used to inform future tax policies.
Meanwhile, the forum is also being facilitated by Falana Gbenge-Oyebode, Tax Expert, Advisor to the Director of Customs Union on Taxation at ECOWAS.