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 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

Ahead of final announcement of elections results by the National Elections Commission (NEC), opposition United People’s Party (UPP) has officially endorsed opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator George Manneh Weah for an imminent presidential run - off expected between ruling Unity Party (UP) and the CDC this November.

Provisional results released by the NEC as of 15 October puts the UPP of presidential candidate Macdonald Wento at 8,613 ( 0.6 percent) of the votes counted so far.

The NEC is yet to officially announce a run - off yet, but Liberians are glaringly bracing for a second round between Mr. Weah’s CDC and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s UP against the backdrop that none of the 20 presidential candidates can acquire 50 percent plus one of total votes as required under the Liberian law to be declared winner.

Over the weekend, UPP’s presidential candidate Mr. Macdonald Wento along with former stalwarts of the party stormed the headquarters of the CDC in total celebrations as though Mr. Wento had miraculously been declared winner of the October polls.

But the occasion was to declare his support to the presidential bid of Senator Weah if there should be a run - off. With final results expected this Friday after 95 per cent of counting has been done, the CDC has comfortably obtained 39.0 per cent of the total votes cast ahead of UP which has 29.1 per cent.

Declaring his support to the CDC, UPP’s Wento says he is back home. Wento is a founding member of the Congress for Democratic Change which now forms coalition with former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of imprisoned ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor and indicted former Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).

After the formation of the CDC in 2004, Mr. Wento later parted company with the party for his political sojourn. Having miserably performed in the October elections, Mr. Wento finds comfort in quietly returning to his political home, the CDC.

He says his return with a support base of 0.6 per cent of the vote counted so far is intended to ensure that CDC wins a run - off in flying colours.

“We started this political institution years back; we left to create more avenues for others to serve. Today, we [are] back to work for the forward - match [of] our dear party,” says Mr. Wento.

For his part, CDC Vice Chairman for operations Mr. Mulbah Morlu expressed thanks to the UPP for its decision to come back to the CDC.

Morlu says the political godfather of the UPP, the late Gabriel Barcus Matthews also served as the godfather to the CDC during the 2005 Presidential elections, noting that the spirit of Mr. Matthews will be celebrating as his children are mustering the courage to form a common front against someone whose life speaks, but failures.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley