The Commissioner-General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Thomas Doe Nah, has taken serious exception to media reports indicating that huge sums of paid taxes have not been reflected in the government’s consolidated revenue account.
Rebuking the report with information about the LRA’s Transitory Accounts Review, Commissioner-General Nah indicated that the memo on which the publication was based was ‘doctored’ and did not emanate from the LRA.
In his rebuttal, the LRA boss said, “It hurts me when the media, for reasons best known to themselves, try to insinuate or try to twist activities of the LRA to focus on the death of our two falling colleagues. But what is even more serious is for a media entity like Frontpage Africa who is expected to value integrity and report truthfulness to get involved in falsification of documents to meet their own selfish aim.”
Commissioner-General Nah, in a furious mood on November 17 at a special MICAT press briefing, said the recent story published by a local media outlet was also intended to tarnish the reputation of the CBL because they insinuated that the bank was stealing tax money.
It can be recalled that in the Monday, November 16, 2020 edition of the Frontpage Africa newspaper, the story captioned, “Liberia: Millions Of Taxpayers’ Money Missing at Central Bank of Liberia Auditors Discovered” was published. The story said that an audit discovered over the three-year period US$17,580,280.37 and L$2,346,657,844 of taxes paid into transitory accounts at various commercial banks were not remitted to the consolidated general account at the Central Bank of Liberia.
The publication indicates that for the year 2017, revenue transactions amounting to US$2,043,813.75 and LD$327,130,712.16 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2017 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in the government’s Consolidated General Revenue Account.
In 2018 also, revenue transactions amounting to US$8,357,651.67 and LD$1,131,749,625.77 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2018 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in the government’s CGRA.
It further noted that in 2019, revenue transactions amounting to US$14,700,701.70 and LD$887,777,506.07 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2019 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in GOL’s CGRA.
Swift confirmation report is a confirmation report prepared by the beneficiary bank (CBL in this case) that funds have reached the beneficiary account.
In derogatory comments to media practitioners, Commissioner Nah stressed: “We are disappointed and feel injured by the report which has the tendency to mislead the public and undermine our role as the principal collector of taxes and administrator of the Revenue Code. We encourage media outlets to verify or authenticate sources of information or documents purporting to be products of the LRA.”
However, the LRA boss, who did not admit whether or not money was missing, stressed that the story was actually meant to tarnish his reputation and hard-earned character built over the years during his role as a civil society actor in Liberia.
Commissioner-General Nah disclosed that Liberia as a country can no longer survive on a US$500 million budget, stressing, “We need to move to a billion, but let’s say to you that, despite all our desire to transform our country leaving civil society and the private sector to contribute, there are people bent on tarnishing our reputation and undermining the efforts of the government. However, Commissioner Nah added that despite the smear campaign to discredit the government they are still optimistic about collecting revenues to ensure that civil servants and other workers are paid.