Liberia: Budget Hearing Starts As Small and Medium Enterprises Become Highest Tax Contributors

Monrovia — The joint Committee on Ways, Means and Finance and Public Accounts of the 54th Legislature has commenced the deliberations of the fiscal year 2020/2021 National Budget.

The exercise began on Monday with a formal opening ceremony witnessed by the media and was followed by the discussions of the revenue components of the budget behind closed doors with officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The Chairman of the joint committee, Rep. Thomas Fallah (District #5, Montserrado County), promised that the process will be executed expeditiously within the next two weeks.

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. Samora Wolokolie said out of the total US$535.4 million projected for FY 2020/2021, domestic revenues accounts for US$407.4 million, constituting 76 percent, while US$118 million or 24 percent constitutes external resources.

Seventy percent of domestic revenue, he said, is projected in actual United States dollars, totaling US$285.3 million dollars while actual Liberian Dollar projection is L$25.9 billion dollars or United States dollar equivalent of US$122.1 million dollars.

Domestic Revenue Mobilization by Economic Sector

According to Dr. Wolokolie, projected revenue from the extractive sector including agriculture, forestry and mining is US$56.9 million with mining constituting US$39.7 million, agriculture US$13.1 million and forestry US$4.1 million.

Revenue forecast from other economic sectors including small and medium enterprises which include real properties, motor vehicles, importers of goods by individuals and small firms, among others totals US$129.8 million, manufacturing sector US$23.7 million, service sector, US$46.3 million, petroleum trading sector US$65.4 million, general business covering large importers of general merchandize of all kinds, US$45.1 million, public corporations and state-owned-enterprises, US$20 million and sector ministries and agencies fees for service, US$11.9 million.

External Resources

Wolokolie, speaking further, outlined that revenue from external resources, constituting grants and borrowings is US$118 million which when broken down includes grants of US$47.5 million and loans of US$70.5 million.

New Tax Policy and Revenue Measures

Also, to be submitted along with the FY 20/21 budget document, Wolokolie noted that there is a set of new measures to improve tax policy and administration. Key amendments would include an excise tax on petroleum, a one percent increment on Goods and Services Tax (GST), transitioning from Specific to Ad Valorem rate [a tax whose amount is based on the value of a transaction or of property] relative to the CET migration plan for alcoholic beverages, among others, and other tax administration enhancing amendments to improve the revenue code.

Meanwhile, hearing of the revenue portion of the budget continues Tuesday with the appearance of Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Liberia Maritime Authority (ʟᴍᴀ), Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), National Port Authority (NPA) and the National Fisheries & Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).

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