The ‘Specialized Committee’ of the House of Representatives which is tasked to scrutinize (review) all tax incentives and concession agreements, has frowned on the Bureau Veritas (BIVAC) Liberia and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) for non-compliance and deliberate lack of cooperation.
Lofa County District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi and chairman of the Specialized Committee, said the LRA is dragging her feet to disclose to the Committee the ‘cost incentive’ or “total amount” of all the tax incentives or tax waivers from all concessions and business institutions which are enjoying tax incentives or tax waivers, while BIVAC is reneging to submit their Investment Contract.
The disappointment of the House’s Specialized Committee was contained in a preliminary report to plenary, which was read and endorsed on Thursday, February 21, which marked the 13th day sitting.
BIVAC is an international company that is involved in pre-shipment inspection (PSI), while LRA is a government agency that is responsible to collect lawful revenue.
Rep. Massaquoi named the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), Firestone Liberia, APM Terminals, Conex Petroleum, and ArcelorMittal as some of the concession or business institutions which are in compliance.
“Some of the Agreements or Investment Contracts we scrutinized indicate that the time has passed for them to be reviewed legally either five or 10 years ago,” Rep. Massaquoi said.
“APM Terminals and Firestone are some of the concessions that are ought to be re-reviewed according to their concession agreements,” he said.
He added: “We have also observed that some of the tax waivers have been misused and because of that our investment is sinking and if we don’t rescue it, we will be doomed.”
Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar made the motion for the Specialized Committee’s preliminary report to be endorsed and extended for an additional one month. But the extension of the Specialized Committee’s time-frame was denied and given an open-ended duration.
Meanwhile, the Specialized Committee is co-chaired by Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous M. Gray, while other members are Bomi County District #1 Representative Edwin M. Snowe; Montserrado County District #5 Representative Thomas Fallah; Lofa County District #2 Representative Julie Wiah; and Montserrado County District # 9 Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood.
The remaining lawmakers include River Cess County District #2 Representative Rosanna Schaak; Montserrado County District #3 Representative Rustonlyn Dennis, Bong County District #5 Representative Edward Karfiah; Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar; Grand Gedeh County District #1 Representative Zoe Pennoh; Montserrado County District #11 Representative Richard Koon; Margibi County District #2 Representative Tibelrosa Tanpoweh, Sinoe County District #3 Representative Matthew Zaza, Montserrado County District #16 Representative Dixon Seibo and Gbarpolu County District #2 Representative Cllr. Kane Wesso.
The Specialized Committee was appointed by House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers on Tuesday, January 15, during the 2nd day sitting of the 2nd Session, following a letter from the Rep. Massaquoi.
He wrote: “Honorable Speaker and Colleagues, it is an open knowledge that our current economic status as a country is challenged and the selfless inputs of all stakeholders to revive it and rekindle the hope of our people. Areas I believe should be looked at are the concessions and investment incentives that are currently in place. You will agree with me, Honorable Speaker and Colleagues, that the implementation of these instruments has a significant impact on the viability of the economy.”