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In “missing taxes’’ saga: CBL waves hands up

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Authorities at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in a Pontius Pilate style Monday appeared to have distanced the Bank from reports of “missing” taxes from the Government of Liberia’ consolidated account at the Bank amounting to millions of United States Dollars .

The banks says it is not a signatory to the account, suggesting that the LRA and commercial banks should rather do the explaining.

The amounts which are captured in a leaked internal audit memo copy of which is in the possession of this paper had emanated from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Chief Audit Executive James Kerkula to LRA Commissioner General Thomas Nah Doe regarding an audit of Direct Transfer Payments at Commercial Banks.

The audit, which is said to have covered the periods 2017, 2018 and 2019 indicates that the amounts of US$25.1 million and LD2.3 billion representing taxes collected by commercial banks and remitted to the Government of Liberia’s (GOL) Consolidated General Revenue Account (CGRA) at the CBL could not be accounted for (see full memo attached).

Reports suggest the death of the four auditors could be linked to this leaked audit report.
But the CBL in a statement issued late Monday November 16, appeared to have denied knowledge about the disappearance of the money saying “it is not a signatory to the procedural channels regarding the movement of GOL’s revenue from commercial banks account to the consolidated revenue account.”

The CBL further noted that it only implements the movement of funds from the accounts based on directive from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning(MFDP).

“All taxes mobilized by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) are paid into the transitory accounts at commercial banks consistent with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law, and eventually moved into the Government’s Consolidated Account held at the CBL, exclusively under the transparent and accountable mandate of the MFDP and LRA,” the CBL continues, adding “Transitory accounts are issues for LRA and commercial banks.”

The bank explained that at the end of every reconciliatory period, and in support of proper accountability, a routine validation is done between the LRA and the commercial banks (excluding the CBL) to confirm that all funds collected and placed in the transitory accounts are appropriately handled in line with policy. The CBL neither participates in the setting of revenue target, nor has any jurisdiction or knowledge about the actual amount received by commercial banks prior to any movement of funds into GOL’s accounts.

The bank stresses further that “it has no statutory control over the operational functioning of GOL’s transitory accounts at the commercial banks, nor does it have any control over the movement of cash from the Consolidated Account of the Government unless by a formalized instruction from MFDP.”

Reports of missing tax revenues have come at the time questions are still hovering over the CBL as to what exactly happened to the reportedly “missing” L$16 billion. Though authorities claimed that there were no “missing billions”, Liberians continue to queue at local banks for the local currency which is said to be in short supply.

By Othello B. Garblah

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