The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has concluded its series of regional dialogues on domestic resource mobilization, with Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba calling on Liberians and other residents of the country to pay only their “fair share” of the legitimate taxes due the state.
Commissioner General Tamba said Liberia can be developed like any other country in the world, but cautioned that this cannot be done with donor money or when people refuse to pay their taxes which are needed to foster development and provide better social services.
CG Tamba made the call last Thursday (April 6) when she addressed and officially opened the forth regional stakeholders’ dialogue on domestic resource mobilization in the Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County.
Held in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Zwedru dialogue brought together at least 75 stakeholders including businesses/investors, traditional leaders, religious and student groups from Grand Gedeh, Maryland, and River Gee Counties.
The gathering, like the previous ones held in Buchanan, Tubmanburg, Gbarnga and Monrovia, provided an opportunity to initiate discourse with various stakeholders, partners and taxpayers on a national Resource Mobilization Strategy, which will be finalized at the country’s first ever national revenue summit slated for June this year.
Commissioner General Tamba indicated that the LRA has a herculean task of collecting revenues, but noted that the task is achievable through collective efforts. “Yes, we can make it, yes Liberia can be developed as any other country, but we cannot do that depending on donors’ funding.”
Donor support, the CG emphasized, is drying out; the world now is focusing on what is within. “You have the businesses, let the businesses pay their fair share of taxes, you have the individuals, let the individuals pay their fair share. Government officials, LRA employees, we all must pay our fair share, and that is how we will develop our country and to improve the link between revenue generation and expenditure,” the CG asserted.
“The LRA advocacy is simple,” Mrs Tamba explained. “We all must pay our just and fair share, from the highest to the lowest taxpayer.”
She reminded participants that the task of collecting revenue is very challenging but not impossible. “The task is indeed a big task; it is very challenging amidst the low level of tax consciousness and low tax-paying culture which we have in Liberia. And this low level of tax consciousness permeates all counties through the length and breadth of Liberia,” the Commissioner General noted and continued: “Is our task achievable? I say yes: through collaboration, through education, awareness, building that national tax-paying culture and consciousness of our citizens and residents.”
MFDP Assistant Director of Regional Planning Stephen F. Guzeh underscored the importance of the dialogue, stating that the government is hungry for development, and that development cannot be carried out when there is no money. “This dialogue is very important because we want you to help us on how we are going to mobilize domestic revenue,” he said.
Grand Gedeh Development Superintendent Abraham Gbehway, representing the county’s leadership, maintained that information and sensitization to the people on tax matters is crucial to get the citizens very involved in paying taxes. “When community members are involved with education and sensitization, a greater impact can be made,” he added, noting that the LRA should develop more interactions with the public including community participation in social mobilization.