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Taxes should benefit the people

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The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) awards 50 taxpayers, including individuals, businesses and organizations for their strong support and valuable contributions to tax payment and revenue collection in Liberia.

The awardees were selected based on either their total tax compliance or the amount of tax contributions during the 2017/2018 fiscal period year – July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

While we welcome the recognition as a sign of motivation to faithful taxpayers, the real issue is government using funds generated from taxes to benefit the people.

Taxes should go towards providing basic services to the citizenry such as health, education and infrastructure, among others. But if outcries on the current draft national budget before the House of Representatives for lack of expenditure report from the previous fiscal year are anything to go by, then there is much to be desired relative to how our taxes are utilized.

The way taxes are expended in our country is not unique to the Weah administration. We recall very well how previous administrations had misapplied taxes and royalties at the expense of the people. For instance, foreign companies operated in Bong Mines and Yekepa beginning with the Tubman, Tolbert and Doe administrations for decades without roads for those communities.

Currently, social and county development funds paid by concessionaires such as ArcelorMittal, Firestone Liberia and others are not reaching the people, who should be the direct beneficiaries.

A classic example is Nimba County, where social and county development funds and other royalties are being held in escrow from the Sirleaf administration up to the present administration, denying the people what is rightfully theirs.

It is not enough for Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. to recognize the significant contributions of taxpayers to the country’s revenue envelop, but said revenue should go towards improving standard of life of the people thru basic services and economic development.

“Taxes are crucial because the government collects the money and use it for projects. Also, in addition to paying the salaries of government workers, tax dollars also help support the security services, build community roads and main highways, but importantly it improves the quality of life for citizens and it is critical to the success of the Pro Poor Agenda,” CG Nah asserted.

LRA Commissioner General Thomas Doe Nah describes Tax payment as a civic duty and lawful, noting that without taxes, the government will be unable to meet demands of society. We agree with the Commissioner General. However, what is obtaining on the ground is a complete opposite, as wasteful spending and luxurious lifestyles of public officials take precedent over general welfare of the people in a shamble economy.

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