The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) with support from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) has petitioned the House of Representatives against a strenuous and unconventional assessment of imports by revenues authorities here.
IREDD has launched an advocacy campaign for domestic resource mobilization through Fairer Tax Governance and Reforms.According to the petition presented to the Committee on Petition and Claims, the strenuous impact of the Tax Amendments Act of 2016 constrained Liberian owned businesses to stage a protest resisting trade facilitation with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) at the Freeport of Monrovia.
IREDD and its partners have identified some compelling tax governance issues including increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 10%; the huge bottleneck associated with trade facilitations at port of entries across the country, particularly the Freeport of Monrovia and the uncoordinated processes of Liberia Revenue Agency, BIVAC and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
They also cite the APM Terminals’ undefined time interval in processing of containers from the Freeport of Monrovia to consignee, and the undue delay by LRA system to process tax payment across the country in real time.
The group further names LRA’s continued use of administrative regulations and unconventional methods to assess customs duties on imported goods instead of the CIF values (use of normal market value or selling price to reevaluate imported goods).
It says revenue authorities here ignore BIVAC’s assessment regime or clean report of findings (CRF); uses excessive penalty regime on imported used vehicles of more than 10 years; and unstable and unregulated foreign exchange rate regime.
They further cite the wrongful application of 4% tax on gross sales quarterly instead of annual turnover required by Section 200 (c)(1) of the Liberia Revenue Code, and the unrestricted system of doing business in Liberia.
They complain that foreigners are serving in dual or triple capacities in the commerce of Liberia by doing import, distribution, wholesale and retails at the same time.
They observe that these actions leave Liberian owned businesses with limited financial capacity, vulnerable and mere spectators.
IREDD says the primary purpose of the advocacy campaign is to engender wider public discussions on the Liberia Tax Amendments Act of 2016 which imposed additional tax burden on all taxpayers, especially Liberian owned businesses that are already challenged financially to compete with foreign counterparts.
–Edited by Winston W. Parley