The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has launched a one-year advocacy campaign for domestic resource mobilization through fairer tax governance and reform, which is intended to promote fair taxation across the country. The campaign is intended to raise awareness on the implications and impact of excessive taxation and the extent to which it threatens the peace and stability of the state. The campaign, which is being supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), will increase the understanding of Liberian citizens and their responsibility in terms of paying taxes and its benefits.
Harold M. Aidoo, the executive director of IREDD who spoke yesterday at the launch of the campaign, said the initiative remains core to Liberia’s national development agenda, adding, “As a country, for us to address or meet most of Liberia’s development needs, we need financing.”
“We need to mobilize the necessary domestic resources in order to finance the country’s development programs or priorities. The government has made it a priority to ensure that it enhances its abilities to mobilize resources for development purposes,” director Aidoo said. He recounted that after the Ebola crisis, the government increased taxes on some commodities, which affected ordinary citizens, while at the same time giving incentives to multi-national corporations as a way of stabilizing the economy. “We need to work to ensure the regulations of tax regime. We need to understand how to increase taxes to drive the country’s development while helping to keep our various companies and taxpayers stable,” he said. Aidoo said the project seeks to look at how stakeholders create a space for conversation around fair taxation in Liberia, stating “For us to ensure that there is fair taxation, all stakeholders need to work together.”
“We need to know if companies are paying their fair share of taxes and to know if ordinary citizens are paying their fair share. The campaign seeks to advocate for fair taxation and ensure that taxpayers get the necessary benefits of paying those taxes,” director Aidoo said. “Where are the challenges? Are Liberians getting the benefits of the taxes they’ve paid? How do we ensure that we do not increase taxes on ordinary Liberians and companies as a way of reaching the country’s development needs?”
Massa Crayton, OSIWA country director, who officially launched the campaign, said “there is a need to educate the people about where these taxes go and not just collecting it; we need to get the awareness out first.” Director Crayton said government needs to ensure that institutions provide the needed services, particularly health institutions and schools, that will encourage taxpayers across the country. She added that fair taxation remains a strong desire of the people of Liberia, noting that compliance remains a real problem for many citizens, including business people.
Decontee T. King-Sackie, deputy commissioner general for Technical Affairs at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), urged companies and ordinary citizens to continue to pay their taxes, which will help them to hold the government accountable in terms of development and other benefits. Commissioner King-Sackie said LRA is poised to make tax paying a culture in Liberia through the support of staff and partners, adding that “Taxation remains the lifeblood of any government or country.”
She lauded IREDD and partners for the initiative that will help Liberia, mainly the young people, to understand the importance of paying taxes, and increase government priorities in the area of development.