Partial view representatives of 26 African countries n Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop of July 26-28 in Monrovia Representatives of 26 African countries are in Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop for the third edition of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Tax Outlook Publication.

According to a press release, the three-day workshop, being hosted by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is highlighting means of improving cross-country comparison and benchmarking comparable data on tax policies and tax administration and related legislations, among others.

The gathering seeks to provide analysis of tax data trends and identify good practices as well as understanding of the Tax Outlook Publication data collection processes. Addressing the opening session on Wednesday, LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba describes the workshop as a critical milestone of the African journey in providing high quality and reliable statistical data on tax administration covering the continent.

She praises ATAF for spearheading such initiative, noting that it will further enhance the collection and compilation of accurate tax data in Africa. The LRA boss also points out that the hosting of the workshop in Liberia demonstrates the importance of statistics in tax administrations and the vital role it plays in informing public policy decision.

She urges participants to dedicate their attentions in acquiring the requisite skills with the aim to improve the level of revenue collection across the Africa region. For her part, the Director of Research of ATAF, Dr. Nara Monkam, indicates that the training is aimed at enhancing revenue administration in the region through knowledge and experience sharing and comparison analysis.

She notes that the event is also a means of preparing for the third African Outlook Publication, which highlights factual and evidence-based statistics on all tax related matters on the African continent. The workshop will climax with the tour of the LRA Headquarters on Friday, January 28, in Paynesville. Press Release

The grounds of the National Elections Commission became very tense, when an officer of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police landed few punches in the face of the Deputy Secretary General for press and public affairs of the opposition Liberty Party, Mr. Edward Kla Tomey.

The assault came as a result of intense scuffle between onlookers and sympathizers, who had gone to witness the ruling of the investigation of fraud and irregularities case between the opposition Liberty Party and the ruling Unity Party as complainant and co-complainant on one hand, and the National Elections Commission.

Mr. Tomey was taken from the scene by people believed to be LP partisans to a nearby clinic for medication.

It all started when NEC Hearing officer, Cllr. Muanna Villie, on the evening of November 20, called for a one hour break, following arguments from the parties and the National Elections Commission to allow him prepare his file for the ruling.
After the break, people who attended the argument tried to make their way back into the James Fromoyan Conference Hall for the ruling, but two police officers from the Police Emergency Response Unit or ERU barricaded the entrance, stopping people from entering on the basis that the hall is jammed packed.

While in the process of preventing people from entry, including local journalists, observers and some stakeholders, the chairman of the ruling Unity Party Wilmot Paye and his entourage appeared at the entrance, and were immediately recognized by the officers, who without delay opened corridor for the chairman and six additional persons to enter the hall.

Tension flared as the Executive Director of NEC, Mr. Lamine Lighe, Training Director, Mr. Senensee Freeman, and Press Director Henry Boyd Flomo along with high profile officials of the commission attempted entering but due to the crowd, they could not go through.

Lighe, who appeared very angry called more men from the ERU to clear the entrance, within few minutes, a pickup full of well armed ERU officers appeared and chased the crowd away, denying people of entry.

Meanwhile, the NEC Hearing Officer has ruled that the pieces of evidence and witnesses produced by both the Liberty Party and the Unity Party are not sufficient to seek a rerun of the October 10 Presidential election.

However, the two parties have taken an appeal to the board of commissioners of the National Elections Commission for redress.

The parties are challenging the results of the 10 October poll, citing widespread fraud and irregularities. The LP in particular is calling for a re-run of the entire poll. Its leader, Cllr. Charles Brumskine came 3rd in the poll with 9.8 percent of the total votes cast, while the UP with over 28 percent, had been scheduled for a runoff with former soccer star turned politician George Weah, but the Supreme Court placed a prohibition to the runoff, pending full invetigation.

-By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

As Liberians experience an unprecedented legal case, which seeks redress for election grievances through the law rather than the barrel of the gun, many are fast becoming fatigued by the legal process. But the Liberty Party has strongly reacted to recent statement by former United States Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Linda Thomas Greenfield.

In a press statement released late Monday, November 20, in Monrovia, the party says it is understandable because Liberians had never experienced such a process, neither have the civic stamina been so tested.

“What is not understandable are remarks attributed to former US Ambassador to Liberia, Dr. Linda Thomas Greenfield, which gives the impression that the legal case is a letdown to Liberians and it has been led by ‘a third place candidate who has run three times and never got more than 10 percent’, the statement says.

“This is unfortunate because Dr. Greenfield, an accomplished individual, was born in 1952 in Louisiana, and experienced racism at its core before graduating from a segregated high school in 1970. If anyone should understand the value of a grievance, it should be the Ambassador,” the party continues.

According to the LP, if anyone has benefited, in part or in whole, from a grievance being taken to the Supreme Court of a country, it should be Dr. Greenfield, noting that between the 1950s and 1960s, blacks in America made up about 10% of the population of the United States; yet such small percentage of blacks relative to their white counterparts did not minimize the value of the civil rights struggle, nor detract from the legal cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. In fact, many whites at the time felt Americans were wasting time on the “irrelevant” issue of race when they could be spending time on other “important” issues.

It continues that but it was the persistence of the civil rights pioneers who legally challenged an unjust political environment, which led to the freedom millions now enjoy.

Dr. Greenfield, who did her political science fellowship in Liberia in the 1970s, has since benefited from the struggles of civil rights pioneers, many, who themselves, did not live to enjoy the fruit of their labor, the party laments.

According to the LP it seeks to stop an attempt by few powerful and cunning individuals from usurping the voice of the people.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning or MFDP has strongly rejected a local daily’s report of a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended fiscal year 2016/2017.

In a press statement issued here Thursday, 20 July the ministry ays its attention has been drawn to the Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Edition of the FrontPage Africa Newspaper in which the paper erroneously reported a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended 2016/2017 fiscal year, not on the basis of factual reporting, but on account of “reliable or financial experts.”

The release says the paper based its story on an unsubstantiated year-end fiscal reconciliation report of the consolidated account, indicating a wrong year-end revenue collection of US$522million and US$42 million as potential deficit; even though, the year-end expenditure estimate needed for accurately determining deficit or surplus was not mentioned.

The release claims the paper further suggested that the deficit could increase to US$50 million if US$4million payment for the Executive Mansion renovation and US$6million payment to George Haddad’s Prestige Motors were made, which it maintains, are all concoction of a “financial expert’s” imagination.
It explains that the Budget year FY16/17 successfully ended with a surplus of US$1.8 million brought forward to the FY17/18 budget, which has been approved by the Lower House and awaiting concurrence by the Upper House of the National Legislature.

According to the Ministry, Gross Revenue collected at end June 30th, 2017 is estimated at US$550.8 million, saying “This amount net of the ECOWAS Trade Levy of US$3.2 million brings the net revenue available to GoL at US$547.57 million. This fact contradicts FrontPage reported net revenue amount of US$522 million.”

The release further refutes allegation that Finance and Development Planning Minister Boimah Kamara has usurped the allotment functions of the Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, and is not holding weekly Fiscal Management Team meetings with senior technicians regarding the formulation and execution of the national budget.

“In keeping with supervisory oversight of every department to ensure proper and accountable usage of tax payer money; it says, “Minister Kamara has instituted several reforms including the following:

The authorization of allotments to spending entities still remains a function of the Deputy Minister of Budget, but with the expressed approval of the Minister as provided under the PFM Act. The procedures for allotments, which are the first layer for authorizing, spending from the National Budget, have been revised to effectively minimize unauthorized allotments;

In tracking the execution of the national budget with respect to revenue performance and expenditure monitoring, the Minister still holds regular Fiscal Management Team (FMT) meetings with senior technicians of the MFDP and the Liberia Revenue Authority to discuss various fiscal reports and reconcile the financial position of the Government of Liberia. These meetings are in addition to regular Senior Management Team (SMT) meetings and general staff meetings aimed at cultivating a working culture that promotes team spirit and effectiveness.

The MFDP release says in the fight against corruption, the current management team is on record for improving systems and controls within the Ministry and taking punitive action against individuals caught in the act of misuse of entrusted public resources.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning encourages media entities to seek clarifications on news relating to government’s fiscal operations from relevant authorities within the MFDP before publications. The Ministry cautions against spreading false news, especially on fiscal operations of government because it has the propensity to undermine the economic viability of the State by scaring away potential investments and development assistance. Press Release