Pres. Weah Admonishes taxpayers as LRA Launches Mobile Tax Payment via Orange Money
President George Manneh Weah has called on Liberians and foreigners to pay their taxes in compliance with the law for the development of the country.
He made the plea on Thursday, April 12, when he served as the chief launcher at the ceremony of a new service that will allow Liberian taxpayers to pay their taxes via Orange Money.
The mobile tax payment technology was launched by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) at the Monrovia City Hall.
The newly-launched mobile tax payment technology allows taxpayers, mainly small and medium income earners, from US$500 down, to pay their taxes through the Orange Money Service.
President Weah said, “Money must be paid to the Government of Liberia; money is in the country, but not paid in taxes to the government to meet its development agenda. The government will remain flexible to taxpayers and will allow them to pay their taxes quarterly if need be.”
President Weah launched the service by becoming the first Liberian citizen to pay his taxes online in an undisclosed currency and amount, using the Orange Money service. “Our e-revenue strategy is to increase revenue collection efficiently through technology in order to be able to better redistribute collected money for our developmental pro-poor agenda,” he said.
“This service helps to improve efficiency, helps achieve policy outcomes and contributes to economic policy objectives. It helps to build trust between the government and its people.”
After going through the prompts on his mobile phone, the president announced: “Transaction successful!”
The LRA is an autonomous agency established by an Act of the Legislature and began operations in 2014, to collect lawful revenue for the government. It works under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, explaining the success of the venture, said it was through “Goal 4 of our strategy that is aimed at transforming tax administration and using Information Technology.”
She attributed the success in the technological setup to the LRA technical team, Orange-Liberia, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Lonestar Cell MTN.
She also commended USAID (United States Aid for International Development) for its technical and capacity building support to the LRA in meeting up with the drafting of its tax policies.
Outlining the benefits of the new technology, Madam Tamba said, “Taxpayers could take days standing at windows of LRA, MFDP, the Freeport of Monrovia and other revenue generating entities to pay their taxes; some of which could even lead to closing shops and operating entities for small and medium-size businesses;but with this technology they can remain in the comfort of their homes or even while on the move to pay their taxes in less than five minutes.”
She said the new method is meant to facilitate voluntary compliance in order to enhance domestic resource mobilization. The Commissioner-General said the new technology will minimize potential corruption by reducing cash tax payment to individuals at revenue generating points.
She said modernizing tax administration is also to facilitate the government’s pro-poor agenda. “We need roads, water, electricity, housing and almost everything in this country, and when we travel we see that we are far behind,” Madam Tamba said.
Mr. William Saamoi, Director for Legal, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at Orange-Liberia, on behalf of the company’s CEO Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly, said: “Orange Liberia extends gratitude to the government through the LRA for opening this unique partnership between the government and Orange-Liberia for the creation of this platform for the payment of taxes via Orange Money.”
He also thanked the UBA and USAID who had contributed to the process. “Today we are proud to say that with the collaboration of our partners, we are the first telecom operator who have been able to develop a tax payment system through our platform that is not only user friendly but also very convenient, flexible and highly efficient on capturing information on payments made by taxpayers,” Mr. Saamoi said.
The Head of the United Bank of Africa Mr. Olalekan Balogun concurred with Madam Tamba, noting: “Today is a milestone for UBA because this will provide efficiency, convenience, and transparency in the way we collect taxes for LRA. It is a transformation because this will change the way people pay their taxes, and how LRA can ensure an enhanced and more robust collection process.”
Available services covered by the technology for tax payment include Corporate Income tax, Withholding tax (The amount of an employee’s pay withheld by an employer and sent directly to the government as partial payment of income tax), Personal Income tax, Real Estate tax, Business tax (2% and 4%), Excise tax (A tax paid when purchases are made on a specific good) and Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Other available services for non-tax payments are birth certificates, marriage certificates, travel certificates (otherwise known as passports) fire inspection fees and business registration.