The Liberian government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), has climaxed the first of several planned phases of the national Value Added Tax (VAT), awareness in Bomi and Bong Counties; and it is being supported by the World Bank. The objective of the training is to broaden the consumption of the tax base, facilitate tax compliance, create an overall transparent tax system, discourage under-evaluation and smuggling, self-policing, promote neutrality that does not distort economic decisions, and contribute to ECOWAS regional fiscal integration.
The training, supported by the World Bank, seeks towards getting citizens’ views, recommendations, and key findings on the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) system, and to replace the current GST in consonance with ECOWAS Directives. The training is intended to provide the avenue on how to transition from VAT to compliance with the Regional Protocol A/P2/7/96 Establishing VAT in the ECOWAS Member States. It is reported that Liberia is now the only country in the sub-region that has not yet transitioned to VAT.
Speaking at the opening session, Assistant Commissioner for Domestic Tax Department at the Liberia Revenue Authority, Darlington Talery, explained that the collection of taxes is a major vehicle to transform Liberia in terms of development across the country. According to him, if schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other facilities across the country are built it is because the government has collected taxes both indirectly or directly.
‘’ If schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other facilities across the country are built, we need to collect taxes both indirect or direct and if we want to construct educational facilities, the easiest way for this to happen is through the collection of taxes,’’ he stressed.
He noted that the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) is very critical and crucial for the expansion of government fiscal space to enable the government to provide goods and services for its citizens. He added that the VAT process is to ensure the government generates more revenue and provides the necessary services for all Liberians, which can be done when taxes are paid.
For his part, the Director of Indirect Tax Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Robert Dwuye, Jr., Lead Technical Focus person for VAT pointed out that the participation and inputs from superintendents, town-chiefs, religious leaders, petty traders, and civil society organizations are key for the awareness exercise and hoped they spread the message across other counties.
Dwuye indicated that the introduction of VAT will enable the government to provide more goods and services for its citizens resulting from the increase in its revenue basket. He thanked development partners for the positive steps taken and called for more intervention like logistic support for the smooth implementation of VAT in Liberia.
Participants from different working groups, local authorities of the business community, civil society organizations, religious groups, and petty traders participated in the deliberations and agreed to support transitioning from GST to VAT.
The week-long validation awareness of a Value Added Tax (VAT) was attended by superintendents, Town-chiefs, Religious Leaders, Petty Traders, and civil society organizations from Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Nimba, Rivercess, and Margibi counties. The nationwide validation awareness was well attended by ECOWAS consultant, senior staff from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Liberia Revenue Authority, and funded by the World Bank.
Reported by: Augustine Octavius
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