15 February 2019

Liberia: GOL, Stakeholders Brainstorm On Tax Reform

The workshop is part of several planned on the revision of the Liberian Revenue Code.

The Government of Liberia (GoL), represented by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have brainstormed on amendments made to the revised Excise Law passed by the Legislature.

The one-day workshop, organized by USAID, MFDP, and LRA, including the Board of Tax Appeal (BOTA), was part of efforts by USAID-funded Revenue Generation for Governance and Growth (RG3) program, which supports the government in developing an efficient and effective tax policy and administration system that stimulates economic growth.

With technical work on the revised revenue codes currently ongoing, technicians and participants on Thursday, February 7, 2019, came together in a workshop in order to review components of the revenue generation, to include investment incentives, exemption, and taxpayers in so as to ensure that the revised code was in the right perspective.

The workshop is part of several planned on the revision of the Liberian Revenue Code. Taxation involves specifying tax bases and the rates associated with those bases.

RG3 Chief of Party Alexander Kitain, speaking at the workshop, expressed delight about the passage of the Excise Amendments into law.

"I'm proud of the cooperation by stakeholders and the Liberian government that the Excise Amendments are passed into law and will soon be printed into handbills," COP Kitain said.

He called on the government to be mindful regarding tax exemptions for concessions. He said it was important for the government to focus on the reduction of the income tax rate, by not depleting revenue that could be generated due to tax exemption.

Dr. William B. Trautman, DAI Principal and Global Practice Specialist who prepared a presentation on tax reform that should be initiated, called on the LRA to focus on the tax system, and not the implementation of the investment incentives.

Dr. Trautman suggested that a uniform tax rule should apply to all concessions, and agencies of government should checkmate these concessions to know whether they are creating jobs and are in compliance with the tax policy of the revenue code.

Hassan A. Karneh, director of Indirect Tax, stressed the need to revisit the investment incentive portfolio as noted by President George M. Weah in his State of the Nation Address.

President Weah made specific reference to a case where investment incentives will meet the economic demand of the Liberian people in order to elevate them from poverty to better living standards.

Molley Kiazolu, LRA Assistant Commissioner for Revenue Policy, Statistics and Strategic Planning, said that the revenue code formed the basis of taxation. He noted that it was important for the investment incentives to remain in the revised revenue code.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Revenue and Tax Policy Division of the MFDP and the LRA stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the incentives regime, so that tax expenditures and their accompanying benefits are fully aligned with the country's economic growth and development.

The need to undertake a holistic review of the Revenue Code of Liberia was also highlighted.

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