Stakeholders from Liberia and Sierra Leone have concluded a one-day semi-virtual regional consultative meeting on harmonization of fiscal regime in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) sector within the two Mano River Union Countries.
The ultimate objective of harmonizing the tax regimes for the artisanal mining sector is to increase the revenue derive from the sector for all member states.
By drastically reducing incentives for an operator to cross borders with precious minerals to export from a neighbouring state because of more favourable taxation levels and/or operational and administrative processes, the smuggling of precious minerals and tax evasion will be curtailed.
The semi-virtual meeting attended by stakeholders from both countries took place at a local resort in Sinkor, Monrovia, and Freetown, Sierra Leone respectively. At the same time, a similar consultative meeting is also ongoing between Ivory Coast and Guinea today, April 15, 2021.
It was organized by the MRU Secretariat with the support of the GIZ Regional Resource Governance Programme and co-financed by the European Union.
Liberia was represented by the Office of the Vice President, Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Liberia Revenue Authority, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, European Union, MRU Civil Society Natural Resources Rights and Governance Platform and Green Advocates, a civil society organization, while Sierra Leone was represented by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, and Ministry of Finance.
In her welcome statement, the Regional Resource Governance in West Africa Programme (REGO), Marie-Joséphine Nsengiyumva, told her counterpart that the purpose of the consultation meeting is to allow member countries to discuss an approach towards the harmonization of taxes in the gold sector.
According to her, the meeting was also intended to evaluate the fiscal regimes for minerals present in the MRU Member States, with a view to identify the loss of revenues linked to the differences in fiscal regimes and determine options for harmonization.
Nsengiyumva used the occasion to reiterate GIZ’s commitment to continue accompanying MRU Countries in this process.
“This initiative, she said, started by the MRU in 2017 but unfortunately stopped two years later and is now coming to fruition with this first step. The harmonization of taxes applied in the artisanal and small-scale mining is a high priority in the MRU countries.”
Nsengiyumva informed the participants that the project was earmarked at the regional technical meeting that brought together national multi-stakeholders and international partners in Freetown in February 2020 to develop regional and national action plans.
“As most of you know, the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) has been mandated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to implement the Regional Resource Governance in West Africa Programme in the four countries of the Mano River Union, since 2009 in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and 2015 in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea,” she added.
According to her, the aim of the programme is to support the MRU countries in aligning their mining sector more closely with the principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability.
“Within this programme, we have a project focusing on the implementation of the Kimberley Process at the regional and national levels, the fight against the smuggling of precious minerals as well as enhancing the development and livelihood aspects of artisanal mining in the MRU region,” said Nsengiyumva.
For his part, Carlton S. Miller, Liberia’s Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development at Mines and Energy, lauded GIZ and the MRU Secretariat for organizing such a virtual meeting that is in the interest of both countries.
Deputy Mines and Energy Minister Miller informed the body that the meeting was held at the right time when the country is facing a very serious problem with the artisanal mining regime.
He said for the past three years Liberia has experienced a sharp reduction in her export figures for both gold and diamond to three per cent.
At the same time, Prince P Nelson, Director for Revenue and Tax Policy at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, disclosed that revenue generation is a very serious issue that countries are facing including Liberia.
“We hope that these discussions will be very fruitful as we look toward having or resolving some of these challenges and increasing our revenue base,” Nelson added.
Nelson, “The sub-region’s artisanal mining sector, if effectively managed, can be a growth engine as it is an important niche to improve state revenues, enhance the development of communities, and reduce poverty at the grassroots level.”