False Declaration Undermines Govt’s Pro-Poor Agenda – LRA
(LINA) – The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has expressed concern over increasing acts of under and false declarations by importers, especially through the Freeport of Monrovia, having the propensity to undermine the Liberian government’s Pro Poor Agenda.
The LRA recently cautioned importers of goods and owners of cargos to fairly declare every item loaded in containers entering the country, as it remains resolute in the collection of every lawful tax due the government in line with the Liberia Revenue Code.
Addressing a regular Ministry of Information press briefing on April 19 in Monrovia, LRA Commissioner of Customs Saa Saamoi said some importers are engaged in the fraudulent acts of under and false declarations to the detriment of the country.
Displaying some falsely declared goods, including coat suits and backpacks during the press conference, Commissioner Saamoi disclosed that importers were declaring untruthful values of their imports in a bid to avoid paying the actual taxes due the government and people of Liberia.
For example, the Commissioner explained that some importers would declare 1,000 pieces of items on which they are billed to pay their tax, but when verified, the number of items increases to 2,500.
Commissioner Saamoi said such dishonest acts seriously undermine the government development agenda and domestic resource mobilization efforts.
Contrary to claims by some importers that the LRA is exploiting them via double taxations and inspection, the Customs Commissioner stated that the Authority has never been involved in such act, but was rather ensuring that lawful taxes due government are collected.
He disclosed that the LRA has since put in place several reform measures, including a Paperless Declaration and simplified declaration modules, among others, to make the importation and assessment of goods through the ports easier and accessible.
Saamoi said the new system is a digital platform (Paperless Declaration) that is accessible from any part of the world through internet connectivity.
The Customs official said despite complaints of high tax rate in the country, Liberia’s tax rate is instead lower than other countries’ in the region.
“For example, the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate on vehicle importation in Liberia is 10 percent, while in neighboring Ivory Coast and Guinea it is 20 percent, for Ghana it’s 17 percent and Sierra Leone stands at 15 percent,” he said.
Commissioner Saamoi said the LRA is not in the business of creating hardship for importers, but is interested in making the customs process transparent and in a way that government will collect the requisite revenues to support government’s Pro Poor Agenda.
He said all Liberians, including the business community, must contribute their fair share of supporting the Agenda by paying their taxes through truthful declarations.
The Customs Commissioner then reaffirmed the commitment of the LRA to ensuring a lawful and transparent environment in facilitating trade in Liberia.