By William Q. Harmon and Alvin Worzi
President George Manneh Weah has appointed anti corruption and integrity advocate, Thomas Doe-Nah as the new Commissioner- General of the Liberia Revenue Authority.
The appointment of Mr. Doe-Nah and his Deputy for Technical services, Decontee King-Sackie, was announced through an Executive Mansion release late Tuesday evening. Their appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate.
With this appointment, Mr. Doe-Nah, co-founder of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), replaces Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba whose tenure ended on June 30 this year. Madam Stewart Tamba, who many believe did a great job at the LRA, served from July 2014 June, 2018. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance from 2006 to 2012.
Her successor, Thomas Doe Nah, last worked with the Liberia outpost of the Carter Center, a not-for-profit organization founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter in 1982 with a goal to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering globally.
He recently joined The Center to lead its efforts to advance accountability, transparency, and the right of access to information (ATI) in Liberia.
Doe-Nah, for the last ten years, has, through his CENTAL and other initiatives, been in the vanguard of fighting corruption and advocating for systems that promote accountability.
The LRA, which he has been called to head, is a critical component of the country’s financial system, responsible to collect Government revenue.
Established through an Act of the National Legislature in 2013, the LRA began operations on July 1, 2014 as a semi-autonomous agency of Government. The LRA has as its core mandate the responsibility to administer and enforce the country’s Revenue Code (of 2000 as amended in 2011), and other related laws under which it operates. It is for the purpose of assessing, collecting, auditing and accounting for all national revenues and for facilitating legitimate international trade through border management and enforcement
Doe-Nah comes to the job with a wealth of experience, having co-founded CENTAL and served as its executive director for years. He is a student leader, a banker, a social and economic activist.
He formerly worked in the Economic and Commercial Section of the United States Embassy in Monrovia.
During that period, he analyzed the economic and commercial transactional issues in the political economy of Liberia for the United States Government and was an active participant in key economic governance initiative.
He participated on the Technical Team of the Governance Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) as well as the Steering committee of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) — two anti graft institutions established during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
He is also credited with eight years of progressive work in Liberia’s banking sector having served as vice president at the International Bank Liberia Limited and Loan Officer at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment.
He was also a student leader at the state-run University of Liberia, where he obtained his undergraduate degree. He is also a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
His principal assistant, Deputy Commissioner General for Technical Services, Mrs. King-Sackie, who has served at the LRA since 2014, was re-nominated to the post by President Weah. She had previously served as Assistant Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
During the years, Mrs. King-Sackie was responsible to formulate policies and strategies for the Collection and Accounting of all Government of Liberia Tax and Non-Tax Revenue; to appraise all business processes such as registration of taxpayers and the Tax Roll, audits, filing monitoring, refunds, enforcement among others.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the new LRA head will address public concerns about ‘double taxation’ being carried out under the guise of what LRA officials call “Destination Inspection”. Under this regime, according to customs brokers, the obligatory BIVAC Clean Report of Findings (CRF) detailing origin, cost and applicable duty are arbitrarily set aside in favor of assessment by LRA personnel using a “Blue Book” to determine applicable duty payments which are very often on the high side.