“Depending on funding from donors is not helping this country.” — Phares Dekpah
Phares Dekpah, a businessman operating the DEK-TA Incorporated in Ganta, Nimba County and other parts of Liberia, says relying on donor funding for development will not help the country, but honesty in paying taxes and the proper use of tax dollars by the government will have positive impact on all the citizens.
Dekpah was among several individuals and institutions in recent days to receive recognition by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) for being compliant in their tax payments.
In an interview with the Daily Observer in Ganta on July 31, 2019, Mr. Dekpah said: “Depending on funding from donors is not helping this country; we must all do our best to pay our fair share to the national government in taxes to help meet the development needs we have.”
Mr. Dekpah’s comment concurs with that of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), whose executives, representing different African countries, said in a meeting in 2017 that Africans, mainly Sub-Saharan, should graduate from relying on foreign aid and donor funding and take seriously domestic resource mobilization to generate revenue that will enhance development in their respective countries.
Further, he said that when taxpayers are educated enough on tax and how to go about paying, they would be more compliant with their civic obligations, because they will already know what to do.
He added that in order to get the information across and to encourage tax-compliance, the government through the LRA should have a good number of field agents to cover the entire country.
He also indicated that the government needs to be reasonable in levying taxes on the impoverished citizens who are obliged to pay taxes on low standard houses. “If the government can only be reasonable to lessen its tax rate for poor people living in dotted houses, many people will not refrain from pay taxes. But when the taxes are exorbitant, they will avoid payment,” Dekpah said.
He said bringing development does not come by magic, but by taxes citizens pay, and if Liberia can have what its citizens yearn for, they must adapt themselves to paying their fair share of the tax they have to pay.
“One thing I am benefiting now, for instance, is electricity. If we pay our fair share to the government and those in charge are able to use it properly for the benefit of the citizens, we will have the roads, pipe borne water and other development needs that we have,” Dekpah said.
He said that if Liberians, especially Liberian-owned businesses, set the example by exhibiting sincerity in paying their taxes, foreigners coming in will learn from them to be tax compliant that they will not defraud government.
While encouraging taxpayers to be honest and sincere in paying their taxes, the DEK-TA Incorporated chief executive highlighted the mismanagement of revenue intake.
“The other thing now, he said, “is for us to pray hard to have the right leadership in place that will manage the taxes so that the citizens who pay will also have the impact.”
One major impact citizens can have from paying tax, according to Dekpah, is paying the security, mainly the national police force, to serve and protect the citizens.
“He noted, if a police officer is paid US$150, which is just a very minimal amount, what do we expect them to do other than engaging in bribes and other bad practices?”
The DEK-TA Incorporated is a micro loan corporation that gives loans to customers who are government’s employees. The company has branches in Nimba and other counties in the south-east, including Maryland.
Additionally, DEK-TA operates a real estate business that is gradually expanding; with a branch in Ganta and another in parts of Montserrado County.
The proprietor said he was very gratified being among individuals and businesses recognized by the LRA for tax compliance and is urging others to do same as a matter of civic obligation.