LRA Commissioner General Cautions against Leniency in Tax Collection

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As President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has submitted the 2015/2016 forecast budget to the House of Representatives with warning of a high probability of financial constraints to face the country this fiscal period, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General Elfrieda Steward Tamba has cautioned her workers to exert all efforts and diligently work to meet the targeted budget.

According to Commissioner General Tamba in a press statement, the country depends on LRA to raise the budget needed for the fiscal year; and LRA’s failure means failure of the country.

“In your individual space, wheresoever you are sitting, do your work correctly so that we can collect the remaining revenue,” Tamba told employees in a recently held quarterly general staff meeting.

The Commissioner General also indicated that there are major areas that are non-compliant. They include Maritime which owes a total of US$12. 6m and the Dividend Budget Support of LPRC which amounts to US$ 2.5 million.

She said: “LPRC had promised to make three equal installments of US$ 833,000 over the course of the fiscal year. To date no amount has been paid with only one month to go. The LRA has made and continues to make efforts aimed at ensuring the payment of these revenues by fiscal year-end.”

The National Legislature approved US$622 million as the national budget for fiscal year 2015/16, but was revised downward by US$70 million after the global downturn in the mining and petroleum sectors, thereby setting a revised forecast at US$552 million.

President Sirleaf, while submitting the budget through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), emphasized that the last years of her regime will be tough, something she said would lead government to even pay in the Liberian dollar to save the national reserve at the Central Bank of Liberia.

Giving some statistical data about revenue performance, Commissioner General Tamba said:

“The LRA has as of April 30 collected US$453 million, which is 81% of the revised target. Domestic Revenue accounts for US$ 356 million or 79% of the total revenue collected while external resources accounts for 75.1 million or 16%. Consolidated cash brought forward accounts for US$ 22 million or 5 %”

Continuing, Commissioner Tamba said, “Of the total domestic revenue collected, Domestic Tax Department accounts for US$195.3 Million or 55%, while Customs Department accounts for US$ 160.7 million or 45%. The share of Domestic Tax Department in total revenue collected is 43%. Customs share is 35%. Major drivers in Domestic Tax Department are Personal Income Tax (PIT) and Corporate Income Tax (CIT). Customs Department is driven by Import Duties, Domestic Excise Taxes and Other Customs Charges on Imports.”

The balance to be collected is US$104.5 million, and the LRA Commissioner General gave the breakdown as follows: Domestic Revenue US$ 60.2 million or 51 %, external resources US$ 42.2 million or 47% and Cash brought forward (On account of Maritime) US$ 2.2 million or 2 %.

Commissioner General Tamba also emphasized that LRA has to ensure the collection of at least US$104.5 million before June 30, 2016—the end of the current fiscal period.

In order to achieve the target, the Commissioner General told LRA employees that “….each LRA staff has to play his/her role effectively to ensure the balance is collected. The whole country is depending on us to do that—our own people, citizens….the government, the legislature and the judiciary; as revenue collectors, we hold a very hot seat.”

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