Liberia Is Losing US$200M Annually Due to Tax Waiver, Exemption

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Monrovia – Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has told plenary of the Liberian Senate that the country is losing more than US$200 million in revenue collection as a result of waiver and exemption laws.

Report by Henry Karmo [email protected]

According to him, the government is waiving almost everything and warned that it is not safe to continue that way. He made the statement Tuesday when he appeared before plenary of the Liberian senate in response to a question about budgetary short falls from Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County.

Doe-Nah: “On the issue of budget shortfall, it is a dynamic that comes with how we expend our resources so, it is possible that we perform as indicated but if we cannot control our expenditure there will be a disconnect. LRA is now moving to ensure that we can broaden the base around real estate and there are some interesting ideas and we will like to share with the legislature which we believe could help the Liberian people in trying to deal with the pro-poor agenda.

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“There are other issues that concern us, they have to do exemption and waiver. Our analysis shows that we are losing almost close to two hundred million and hundred and fifty million annually base on exemption and waiver. We are waiving almost everything, we cannot continue on that trajectory.”

LRA Exceeding Target

Also, while at the legislature the LRA boss told members of the Senate that the revenue agency has exceeded its budgetary target in collecting lawful revenue. According to him, as of the 31st of October the LRA has collected 28% more than its targeted goal.

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“We want to inform you that as far as our performance is concern up to October 31 i can assure you that we are above target. The projection up to the 31st of hundred and forty-four million we have collected hundred and US$161.9 million which is 28% above the LRA target.

He said, the LRA performance report for this budgetary year is 7.8% above the past year. “If you look at performance base on past budget year, we are also above target. Last year at the same time our total revenue was around US$150 million at this point we are US$161.9 million putting us at 7.8% above last year. We are making progress.”

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Making petroleum affordable and available

For his part, Professor Wilson Tarpeh of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said, the government foremost priority is making petroleum available and affordable and ensuring that the petroleum dealers don’t suffer the loses and at the same time protecting the end users.

According to the Commerce Minister, currently at the Ministry of Commerce, there is procedure where the prices of petroleum products are reviewed monthly based on the international measurement. He said, in June of this year the ministry reviewed and put the cost at US$3.55.

“In July we reviewed and put the price at USD$ 3.69 for gas.

“Normally we were supposed to make the adjustment but at that particular time the country started to experience an unusual movement in the exchange rate so we decided as government in order to mitigate the hardship the price of petroleum was causing on the Liberian people, we called the petroleum companies and pleaded with them to hold the price at USD$ 3.55, meaning they were losing 14 cent on a gallon with an understanding that we will go back to the normal price.

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Because of the lost it was causing them (Petroleum dealers) they called the government that they could not continue in that light and made three requests to the government of Liberia that for them to continue, the government should reduce road tax, return to status quo where a price is adjusted monthly and that exchange rate be left by itself.

“Giving that we did not want to see the private sector suffer the loss they have for the past months we agree on one of the three requests which is for them to use the rate prevailing at the time of the discussion.”

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