Gov’t Loses Millions over Unaccounted for Work, Resident Permits

8
1989
According to the Liberia Immigration Service, there were roughly 8,000 aliens estimated to be legal residents as of 2012. (Photo: UNMIL)

A growing population of illegal aliens is hampering the government’s revenue collection because the Ministry of Labor (MOL) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) are unable to track them down to ensure that their documents are legalized, an investigation conducted by the Daily Observer has revealed.

An “Illegal alien” is defined as anyone who entered the country without authorization and anyone who unlawfully remains once his/her authorization has expired.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Labor and the Liberia Immigration Service have no central database with information on the work and status of aliens lawfully present in Liberia.

The overall problem of estimating the illegal alien population is further complicated by the fact that the majority of available sources on immigration status rely on self-reported data.

Given that illegal aliens have a motive to lie about their immigration status in order to avoid discovery, the accuracy of these statistics is dubious at best. All of the foregoing issues make it very difficult to assess the current illegal alien population in the country.

Kortu Nyandibo, the communications director of the MOL, explained that a total of 10,440 work permits were issued to aliens from 2013, 2014 and 2016.

“In 2013, 3,603 work permits were issued, while in 2014 some 3,027 and 2016, 3,715 work permits were also issued, totaling 10,440 permits,” Nyandibo indicated and admitted that for 2015 and 2017 there is no record of work permits issued to aliens.

He named the categories of work permits issued to aliens as regular, gratis, and ECOWAS. “A regular permit costs US$1,000 per person for a year, gratis, US$200 for a year, and ECOWAS, US$100,” Nyandibo said.

ECOWAS work permit gives the right to ECOWAS citizen to enter, reside, and establish economic activities in the territory of other member states.

Gratis work permits are also issued to people that enter the country for humanitarian purposes for a short period of time and the regular work permit is issued to non-Liberians to reside and work in the country.

Also, a document entitled ‘Ministry of Labor (MOL) Collection Data,’ obtained from the Sector Ministry Section, Domestic Tax Division of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) disclosed that from 2015 up to 2016, they collected US$3,708,350 and L$179,000 from ‘Regular’ work permits.

As for the gratis work permit for the same year, the LRA raised only US$164,200, and there was no Liberian dollar component, while for the ECOWAS work permits, US$2,000 was collected for 2015 and 2016, and there was also no Liberian dollar component, the document indicated.

For 2016 up to 2017, the LRA raised US$3,782,860 and L$295,850 from the regular work permit; US$168,150, L$9,700 from gratis, and US$113,700, L$523,600 from the ECOWAS work permit, according to the document.

Liberia Immigration Service’s Laurie M. Page said there were roughly 8,000 aliens estimated to be legal residents as of 2012.

“The 8,000 aliens have been issued resident permits that were documented during the administration of Commissioner Abla Gadegbeku, but since then, we have not been able to verify to know the population of aliens residing in the country,” Page stated. “This is why I am not in the position to give any correct record as of 2012 about the population of aliens residing in the country because we have not conducted any verification to know the current number of aliens in the country.”

Authors

8 COMMENTS

  1. There is a total breakdown in the system: not only immigration. There is no accountability whatsoever in malfeasance by these government employees!

    Our outdated system (Ministries and agencies) are too bureaucratic most especially those that supposed to generate much needed revenue for the government to function.

    The revenue generating system (like the one at the MOL and LIS) needs to be revamped or re-engineered for higher ethical standards and fiscal transparency.

    Why should these entities handle payment (fees) and later deposit unaccounted revenue into the government treasury? If they cannot be trusted to collect revenue, let the Finance Ministry revenue department deal with all revenue/fines/fee collected.
    .
    All fines/fees should be paid directly to the Treasury (revenue division) and put into the information data system for cross referencing. After making payment to the treasury, a genuine stamped-flagged receipt (with duplicate kept at the treasury) when issued can be taken by the individual/s directly to whichever agency or Ministry is requesting the payment to prepare document: be it the Immigration office or passport office verifying that a license, permit or relevant fee has been paid. This avoids too many parties handling government revenue.

    There are too many unaccounted government payments and irregularities going on in many agencies and ministries in Liberia. There is an urgent need for transparency in computerized data system on work permits, different immigration status granted, Naturalized citizens, and both resident and illegal alien residents in the Liberia. Not to exclude verification of all tax revenues paid and to be paid in the government coffers.

    The immigration and government revenue collection systems need complete overhauling in Liberia!

    The Decentralization of government computerized revenue collection and banking system is highly needed in the rural areas to cut down on unaccounted funds collected.

  2. That’s what the so-called educated people or should we say the white collard zogoes do, steal the government money with no accountabilities and yet want their offices to be well furnished with brand new cars as well as free gas allocation. I think the government should come up with laws that will require all monies to be paid at the finance ministry and that no money whatsoever be paid any where else accept medical centers. However all money collected out of the ministry o finance should be reported on the next working day or becomes a crime if not reported at such time

  3. There is a complete breakdown in the three branches of government. Because of the breakdown across the horizon, cor-rupt- tion shines everywhere in the country and tries to outshine God’s day and nighttime electricity, the sun and the moon respectively. But the reality is this, “we’ve known this for upteen years”.

    Episode #1……The Main Post Office:
    A few years ago when I visited Liberia, I went to the main Post Office to transact a business. While there at the Post Office, I had an involuntary function and so I asked to go to the man’s room. Guess what? I was led to a place to free myself but, there was no commode. A stinky place it was, I could not do the thing I went for. Yes, at the nation’s main Post Office, there was a complete breakdown of civility.

    Episode #2….The Immigration Building:
    My younger brother and I went to renew our passports at the immigration office. We filled out forms and paid $20 each for passport renewal. The desks of the immigration officials were stacked up with old passports and stamped papers of all kinds. The next thing I heard was “y’all come back here totomorrow to pick up the passports. We too busy today”.
    The problem is this….there was a breakdown of modernization because there were no computers!

    Episode #3….Ticket writers:
    Travelling on Center Street, I saw a grocery store (Super Market) and I became very thirsty. I parked my car across the street from the grocery store. As soon as I got out of my car, I got a ticket for parking even though there was no sign that restricted motorists from parking. I asked the ticket writer why she gave me a ticket. Her response, “I doing my job. Anytime you park here in downtown Monrovia, we waay write a ticket”. I knew she was doing her job. I wasn’t mad at her, but the system. Guess what? There was a breakdown in good governance. In developed countries, a displayed sign will say “no parking, or in some cases, “parking allowed”. That’s not the case in Monrovia, Liberia. Anytime a motorist parks his or her car in the downtown area of Monrovia, a violation occurs. The idea is simple. Just because we’re poor does not mean we cannot do anything right.

    I need not go any further. Monrovia has been around for well over 170 years. Unfortunately, the city has not lived up to its image. The Weah-Taylor team needs all the help it can muster. God, please bless us. (We suffering too much O God!)

  4. The Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization (BIN) – liaising with the Ministry of Labor regarding foreign workers – was a viable source of revenue before the civil war. Understandably, in the throes of fighting, rather than immigration into the country there was panicked emigration out. But now that, supposedly, about 50,000 documented expatriates, foreign traders and other aliens are in the country, receipts from resident and work permits should be totaling several millions US dollars annually.

    From this Daily Observer story, however, it seems part of that estimate ends in the pockets of individuals, and, probably, some not even collected due to incompetence of officials. Whereas some states in the US give quotas to highway patrol and other enforcement agencies of how much to collect as fines, etc. It is these monies which pay and equip personnel. Apparently, there is this notion that our government has a bottomless money pit, so if official X owns this or that, why not Mary Cole and Flama Yanboe.

    Like we noted elsewhere, the new government has to aggressively collect revenue and zealously identify new sources to successfully implement pro-poor policies. For instance, apart from the traditional income-generating institutions, Vehicle License, Driver License, Traveling Document, and Land Registration are all significant revenue streams. But, reportedly, our gold and diamonds, hard currency mainstay in world-admired Botswana, are controlled by powerful elites, officials, and foreigners, while public school education is a “mess”, and life-denying poverty pervasive.

    Well, hope is not an economic strategy. Let the government consider reinstituting the Ministry of Economic Planning, a ministry merged with MOF to create what someone called a “Super Finance Ministry”.

    For, at long last, many now agree with earlier loud dissenting voices that the merger was a mind-boggling mistake. And as EJS once correctly noted, “Liberia is not a poor country, it has been poorly run”. They say only gods and fools don’t change; thankfully, we aren’t either. Folks, if a strong economy carries genuine reconciliation, long-term stability and lasting peace on the shoulders, why entrust it in the hands of looters, slackers, and strangers? A strong economy in which the many, not few, are shareholders is a guarantee of public safety without security sector overreach and brutality. Don’t we ever forget that…

  5. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization( BIN ) nake name is called Bureau of Bribery and Corruptions (BBC ) carried out by border agents could deprived Government to generate sufficient amount of revenues intake being pocketed by assigned borders Agents.BIN operations at local borders or port of entance must be equipt by video tape or modernized to alleviate corruptions.The local residents or passengers and foreingers alike could attest what is meant experiencing BIN officers receiving bribe at borders entrance and internal.

  6. I worked with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) as Deputy Immigration
    Commissioner for Operations from March, 1985 to Sept., 1990. Two things I hate and did
    not like at all. Why? Because they contributed or were the sources of very high corruption.
    (i) The Alien and Nationality Act. It was too old to the point of not applicable. The Fee for
    Permit of Residence in the Act was or is US$10.00; whereas, the Fee being collected at
    the time was US$200.00 per alien. It did clearly appeared at that the Commissioner then
    Mr. Edwin Taye was totally settled with it. I discussed and brought to his attention that the
    Alien and Nationality Code was too old needed to be updated. I got no support from him
    at all.
    (2) People that were going to the Aliens and collected their documents (Passports and
    other Travel Documents) to process their status in the country were so, so Immigration
    Officers who did not used to report Fees collected from them into the Government Revenue.
    That was too or very, very bad, I hope not at this time. But with the revelation at this time
    of the losses in millions of dollars at this time, I am sure that nefarious process is still going
    on. My stand against was that, let the Aliens employ other Liberians who are not working as
    agents for those Aliens in order to earn their living. Why so? Because I knew that non-Immi-
    gration persons will deposit the Residence Permit fee into the national revenue and come to
    Immigration Desk responsible with the Revenue Receipt. That presented me as a bad Commi-
    ssioner; however, some Immigration Officers referred to me as “pill too bitter to swallow and
    too sweet not to swallow.” I got no support from Commissioners Edwin Taye and his Deputy
    for Administration at all. So, what did I do?

    What did I do? I went to the Minister of Labor at the time Dr. Peter Naigaw. We discussed and
    established interoffice coordination with my office. That no Work Permit will be issued unless
    the alien applicant is in possession of Immigration Permit of Residence. We did not involve
    those higher ups who manifested no interest in improving the process in favor of unemployed
    Liberians. Some of the understanding we came up with were:-
    (1) If any company applied on behalf of an alien, we will tell that company that we will locate
    a Liberian capable of doing that work; thus, his application will be rejected.
    (2) If the job is a technical one, approval of his application is dependent on their hiring a
    Liberian counterpart. The company or technician will be required to train the Liberian
    counterpart and report his progress after one year and every six months thereafter. The
    rational in this process was that, in two or three year time, the alien will be returned to
    his or her country of origin and the Liberian remains in that position with the company.
    That process was also intended to help not only the Government but also the economy.

    Consequence of that process had Dr. Peter Naigaw and I were honored by the Labor
    Union in Liberia.

    RECOMMENDATIONS:-
    (1) In order for the Government to realize the needed revenue from processing Aliens in
    Liberia, Immigration Officers must be barred from going to the Aliens to get their
    Travel Documents for processing. Only agents of the Aliens should go to the Immigration
    with their Documents. Upon approval, having check with the Labor Ministry of course, the
    Agent must go to the Internal Revenue pay the Fee their and obtain Revenue Receipt
    that he or she go to Immigration Bureau and present same for processing. Nothing else!

    (2) The Alien and Nationality Act that we were using, if it is not yet revised, must be revise
    to meet the real charges of fees of today. It is illegal to enforce Law that does not the
    criteria of today. Simple as that!

  7. CORRECTED VERSION
    P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. February 16, 2018 at 12:40 am
    I worked with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) as Deputy Immigration
    Commissioner for Operations from March, 1985 to Sept., 1990. Two things I hate and did
    not like at all. Why? Because they contributed to or were the sources of very high corruption.
    (i) The Alien and Nationality Act. It was too old to the point of not being applicable. The Fee for
    Permit of Residence in the Act was or is US$10.00; whereas, the Fee being collected at
    that time was US$200.00 per alien. It did clearly appeared at that the Commissioner then
    Mr. Edwin Taye was totally settled with it. I discussed and brought to his attention that the
    Alien and Nationality Code was too old to enforce and needed to be updated. I got no support
    from him at all.
    (2) People that were going to the Aliens and collected their documents (Passports and
    other Travel Documents) to process their status in the country were so, so Immigration
    Officers who did not used to report Fees collected from them into the Government Revenue.
    That was too or very, very bad, I hope not at this time. But with the revelation at this time
    of the losses in millions of dollars at currently, I am sure that nefarious process is still going
    on. My stand against that was that, let the Aliens employ other Liberians who are not working a
    as agents for those Aliens in order to earn their living. Why so? Because I knew that non-Immi-
    gration persons will deposit the Residence Permit fee into the national revenue and come to
    Immigration Desk responsible with the Revenue Receipt. That presented me as a bad Commi-
    ssioner; however, some Immigration Officers referred to me as “pill too bitter to swallow and
    too sweet not to swallow.” I got no support from Commissioners Edwin Taye and his Deputy
    for Administration at all. So, what did I do?

    What did I do? I went to the Minister of Labor at that time Dr. Peter Naigaw. We discussed and
    established interoffice coordination with my office. That no Work Permit will be issued unless
    the alien applicant is in possession of Immigration Permit of Residence. We did not involve
    those higher ups who manifested no interest in improving the process in favor of unemployed
    Liberians. Some of the understanding we came up with were:-
    (1) If any company applied on behalf of an alien, we will tell that company that we will locate
    a Liberian capable of doing that work; thus, his application will be rejected when found a Liberian.
    (2) If the job is a technical one, approval of his application is dependent on their hiring a
    Liberian counterpart. The company or technician will be required to train the Liberian
    counterpart and report his progress after one year and every six months thereafter. The
    rational in this process was that, in two or three year time, the alien will be returned to
    his or her country of origin and the Liberian remains in that position with the company.
    That process was also intended to help not only the Government but also the economy.

    Consequence of that process had Dr. Peter Naigaw and I were honored by the Labor
    Union in Liberia.

    RECOMMENDATIONS:-
    (1) In order for the Government to realize the needed revenue from processing Aliens in
    Liberia, Immigration Officers must be barred from going to the Aliens to get their
    Travel Documents for processing. Only agents of the Aliens should go to the Immigration
    with their Documents. Upon approval, having check with the Labor Ministry of course, the
    Agent must go to the Internal Revenue pay the Fee there and obtain Revenue Receipt
    that he or she go to Immigration Bureau and present same for processing. Nothing else!

    (2) The Alien and Nationality Act that we were using, if it is not yet updated, must be revised
    to meet the real charges of fees of today. It is illegal to enforce Law that does not meet the
    criteria of today. Simple as that!
    Reply
    P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. February 16, 2018 at 12:44 am

    Mr. Editor, please give me my comment so that I will publish it on another news journal.

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