Like her father, Frank James Stewart, Liberia’s Budget Director through the 1970s, she went through elementary and secondary school right here in Liberia. She later traveled to the United States for college and graduate work in her father’s profession—Accounting and Management. With talent and integrity, she could have remained in the USA, or sought employment anywhere in Europe, Asia or some other African country. No, Elfrieda, like her father, who trained in Accounting and Management at New York’s Columbia University, she returned home to serve. She rose to the post of Accountant General at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI). After serving creditably in that position for a number of years, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called her to head Liberia’s Revenue sector in the Ministry of Finance as Deputy Minister for Revenues. She remained in that position for a number of years before answering another call—to join the team of Liberian and some foreign tax experts to work toward the creation of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), which she now heads with distinction.
Her excellent performance in that position has attracted many people and institutions. Several leading embassies near this capital, especially prominent European ones, have paid courtesy calls on her and her team running LRA— calls that turned into serious and wholesome collaboration towards enhancing LRA’s work and prestige. Of course, a public servant in Liberia who insists on running a highly disciplined and honest system cannot be the most popular person in the republic. Far from it, the first characterization of such a person is that she is “stupid — sitting on all that money and not taking any for herself. Leave her; she will die poor.” Mrs. Tamba has been vilified in the most cruel and despicable (vile, appalling) manner. She has yet remained focused, unperturbed and consistent in her job.
And what have been the results? They have been three-fold: first, the confidence of the administration, especially her boss, President Sirleaf, has been strong and unremitting (constant, endless). Second, Commissioner Tamba maintains the respect and loyalty of her staff. The third is a big, crowning and ultimate one: the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, last month appointed LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Tamba to the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. According to a statement from the Secretary General’s office, Commissioner Tamba will work with 24 other members on the Committee for a tenure of four years. The Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters comprises 25 members nominated by their governments but acting in their personal capacity. Commissioner General Tamba and her colleagues were selected from a pool of 60 nominations received by the UN. The Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters is a subsidiary of the UN Economic and Social Council responsible to deal with a number of major tax issues. These include keeping under review and update as necessary the UN Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries and the Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries.
This high profile international recognition of one of Liberia’s leading civil servants is indicative of the hard work of CG Tamba and her team. This should make all Liberians and Africans proud. We all know how African nations have for generations been the recipients of foreign “experts” coming to Africa to tell us what to do and how to run our affairs. We thank God that our parents, our schools and other national institutions are today able to produce people like Madam Tamba who can be recognized for their expertise and appointed to serve the world’s principal international body, the UN, in such a complicated capacity.
We highly commend Commissioner General Tamba for this recognition, and urge all Liberians, especially our students, to take seriously their studies and their scruples so that tomorrow they, too, may be in the position to win professional, national and international recognition.