DR. TOGBA-NAH TIPOTEH, internationally renowned economist, former Budget Advisor to President Tolbert and former Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, has outlined measures for correcting the current GOL budget shortfall, as declared by the government of Liberia. Contacted over the weekend by some members of the media about his views on the budget shortfall, Dr. Tipoteh outlined the following measures: The first measure being that the President of Liberia should appoint national financial managers who understand the workings of the economy of Liberia very well.
DR. TIPOTEH SAID that with such an understanding, the financial managers will predict very well the expected contribution of economic actors to government revenue. According to Dr. Tipoteh, the Senate of Liberia should be very well informed about how to confirm competent financial managers to facilitate the appropriate appointment of such managers by the President.
THE ECONOMIST WHO is one of Liberia's and foremost politician said the second measure is to know how many persons and businesses should be paying taxes. Dr. Tipoteh said that less than 5 per cent of owner-occupied houses that should be on the tax-paying list are on the list. Furthermore, he indicated that most of the persons and businesses that should be paying real estate taxes contact the government, rather than the government contacting them, about how much they owe the government.
HE ADDED THAT one of three persons and businesses that pay real estates do not pay these taxes in the next year mainly because of GOL's failure to keep checking on them and sending them reminders of their obligations to government. "Correcting these mistakes will raise revenue reduce the shortfall," Dr. Tipoteh said.
THE THIRD MEASURE, in the view of Dr. Tipoteh, is related to the second because it has to do with the failure of the government to do what it knows that it should be doing, and that is making sure that businesses issue proper receipts so that the taxes that the businesses should pay to the government can be paid. Under the eyes of the government, the illegal practice of businesses not issuing proper receipts takes place. Government entities are also engaged in this practice of giving receipts with no official records, thereby making it impossible to determine how much revenue is due the Central Government from these government entities. "Correcting these mistakes will raise revenue and reduce the shortfall," Tipoteh noted.
THE FOURTH MEASURE mentioned by Dr. Tipoteh is the promotion of good business practice on the part of the government. Dr. Tipoteh said the GOL is in the bad business practice of owing businesses but running behind them for taxes. Furthermore, Dr. Tipoteh said that government officials are seen harassing businesses for money and material things. "With such bad practice by the government, businesses do not make as much taxable sales as possible and they also increase their prices, thereby bringing more hardships on the already suffering masses of poor people. Turning the bad practice into good practice will raise revenue and reduce the shortfall," he stated.
DR. TIPOTEH CONCLUDED, "The last measure is the drastic reduction in CORRUPTION! Revenue shortfalls will always occur when there is the stealing of taxpayers' money, the use of taxpayers' money for personal purposes". Here now, Dr. Tipoteh insists is a non-starter when Legislators want USD73million for districts when funds already allocated for the districts were not used in the interest of the masses of poor people in the districts. Reduction in CORRUPTION will raise revenue and reduce the shortfall, he stressed.
WITH THESE SUGGESTIONS relative to the measures mentioned by Dr. Tipoteh, it is good that some attention be given in a bid to see some tangible results. Even though he is an opposition politician, people who many in our society consider a critic; due to his long time experience and years of competence and qualification, policy makers in the country's economic and fiscal arena must give some attention to the points he has put forward.
IT IS BELIEVED that the sharing of ideas among civilized people can go a long way in producing result to such a national issue such as the constant budget shortfall that is being experienced. Thus, let's give some ears to the experienced economist's suggestion.