The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has strongly warned business practitioners, especially importers, to desist from smuggling goods into the country. The Commissioner of Customs at the LRA, SaaSaamoi, told a group of business practitioners in Gbarnga, Bong County, on Tuesday, August 18, 2015 that besides denying the government of needed revenue to support development initiatives, smuggling is a very serious criminal offense under the Liberia Revenue Code.
Mr. Saamoi said the LRA will not compromise with any individual or business caught in the act of smuggling as the law requires a fine of L$200,000 or five year imprisonment or both. He told them to pay their customs duties and avoid using bypasses or unapproved routes,” adding “if you are caught, you will face the law.”
The Customs Commissioner advised importers to do justice to themselves by being law-abiding and to pay their taxes to the right authorities. This he said will prevent them from encountering embarrassment or other difficulties in doing their businesses.
Commissioner Saamoi is leading an LRA delegation on an inspection tour of Customs and Domestic Tax Business Offices on a three-county tour to Margibi, Bong and Nimba Counties to sensitize citizens and the business community on paying their taxes and customs duties.
The delegation held talks with the Superintendent of Bong County Serena Porson-Mappy Tuesday morning, who noted that the LRA needed more staff to match the expanding business community in the county. Also addressing business stakeholders at the Gbarnga Administrative Building, the Commissioner of Domestic Tax DarlingstonTalery underscored the need for a better working collaboration between the LRA and tax payers.
He advised tax payers to adhere to voluntary compliance rather than being compelled to pay taxes. He commended loyal tax payers who did not hold back even during the heat of the Ebola crisis last year.
Business practitioners, among others, underscored the need for clearer understanding of calculating their taxes, the need for security for their businesses, and frowned on the unstable exchange rate between the USD and the LD. This situation, they claimed, is seriously affecting their businesses.
The delegation which also includes the Assistant Commissioner of Customs for Ports Operations Edwin F. Kendema and the Acting Manager for Collectorate Tax Section Bob N. Johnson also visited the Liberian-Guinean Border port of Jorwah in Bong County and took note of challenges there. -Edited by George Barpeen