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Ministry of Finance , RL, Press Releases

Minister of Finance Augustine Ngafuan

Additional Ministers Recalled By President Johnson Sirleaf

(MONROVIA, LIBERIA - November 18, 2010): There have been additional appointments in Government.

The Ministers of Defense, Finance, Education, and Internal Affairs have accepted President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's offer to resume their duties. Full story...

MOF CLARIFIES FPA DEFIANCE STORY

The Ministry of Finance has reacted to the Monday November 8, 2010 lead headline of the FrontPage Africa newspaper titled “Defiant Ones” in which that media entity erroneously reported that the Minister of Finance Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan was engaged in open defiance of a Presidential directive to go on administrative leave. According to the FrontPage Africa, Minister Ngafuan was still using the official vehicle assigned to the Office of the Finance Minister and that he was actively working when, according to the editors of the FrontPage, he has been “dismissed”. Full story...

39 Million for Liberia: Additional Funding for Liberia's Post war Reconstruction

The World Bank has announced additional development funding of US$39 million for Liberia in the coming year. The announcement was made on Sunday October 10 by Mrs. Obigeli Ezekwesili, the World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region during a meeting with the Liberian delegation attending the ongoing Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, the United States. Full story...

Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Staff Mission to Liberia

MOF - Press Release No. 10/370 - September 30, 2010 - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Christopher Lane, visited Liberia September 21-October 1, 2010 to conduct discussions for the fifth review under the Extended Credit Facility and the 2010 Article IV Consultations.[1] The mission met with: Minister of Finance, Augustine Ngafuan; Central Bank of Liberia Executive Governor, Joseph Mills Jones; other senior officials and members of the Legislature; representatives of the private sector, civic society, and development partners, and briefed President Johnson Sirleaf.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Lane issued the following statement in Monrovia:

"After a slowdown in 2009, economic activity is strengthening in 2010 with subdued inflation and a stable exchange rate. Real GDP growth is expected to rise to above 6 percent from 4½ percent in 2009. Exports have rebounded on account of rising rubber production and prices. Foreign direct investment commitments have increased sharply following the ratification of several iron ore and palm oil concession agreements. A number of legislative acts that will significantly support private sector development and strengthen governance have been approved by the Legislature.

"Performance under the Fund supported economic program has been good. All quantitative performance criteria under the program through end-June 2010 were observed. Implementation of structural benchmarks through end-September has been generally satisfactory, although completion of national accounts data and a computerized registry of government assets have faced delays.

"The 2010/11 Budget was approved in September along with amendments to the Revenue Code. The budget envisages an increase of revenue and grants on account of budgetary grants and signature payments for concession agreements. Tax revenue growth is modest on account of a reduction of top rates of corporate and personal income tax effective January 1, 2011. Details of expenditure are being finalized. Budget financing is presently limited to a drawdown of uncommitted deposits. A supplementary budget will be tabled should new financing sources become available.

"The mission discussed with the authorities the significant medium-term challenges, including financing of the development strategy, Liberia Rising Vision 2030, and accelerating growth outside of mining and agricultural concessions. Discussions focused on funding sources for infrastructure over the medium term based on detailed fiscal projections and financial models of concessions. Concessions are projected to provide additional government revenue to finance a significant share of infrastructure development needs. However, tackling deep-seated structural impediments to private sector investment outside concessions will be critical to facilitate growth and employment opportunities for the young and growing population. In this regard, the mission discussed the efforts to transform the financial system to support inclusive growth and the development of small and medium size enterprises. The mission and authorities recognized that the pace and quality of growth would also depend on training and capacity building, securing property rights and maintaining security.

"Following the conclusion of discussions on technical issues relating to the 2010/11 budget, the fifth review of the ECF-supported program will be submitted for consideration by the IMF's Executive Board. Liberia would receive a disbursement of SDR 4.44 million (approximately US$6.9 million) on completion of the review.

"The mission wishes to thank the Liberian authorities and its other counterparts for the constructive and cooperative discussions that took place in Monrovia.
- The End -

BIR reveals its Reforms plans to stakeholders

September 20, 2010: The Bureau of Internal Revenue at the Ministry of Finance has revealed to stakeholders its strategic modernization and reform agenda which includes comprehensive customer-driven road map methodologies, strategies and approaches geared toward increased revenue generation for government.

Presenting the plan to the stakeholders in the conference room of the Ministry of Finance, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Juah Feika said the initiative is aimed at transforming the Bureau of Internal Revenue into an efficient and effective customer driven Domestic Tax administration that will ultimately improve revenue collection to facilitate the boosting in a more sustained manner of government's Poverty Reduction Strategy, PRS.

Mrs. Feika told the stakeholders that the cardinal element of the modernization drive is building the capacity of human resources within the bureau to ensure professionalism and efficiency something she noted is an on-

BIR Commissioner Mrs. Feika presents the Bureau modernization plans to the stakeholders

going exercise that takes the shape of leadership training seminars, audit training workshops and seminars and study tours to access operational activities and structures of other countries to ensure best practices.

On automating the system, Commissioner Feika said the an ICT scheme will shortly be launched to replace the current Integrated Tax Administration System which is shredded with flaws and inconsistencies, wrong coding and duplication of Tax Identification Number, TIN. She said the new system when launched on October 11, 2010 will ensure BIR's payment and filing processes as interfaced with the banking sector for easy verification and access. The automated system, according to Commissioner Feika will transform the BIR's environment using technology linked to tax registers making them transparent and easily accessible to accurate information for decision making.

The plan also calls for the replacement within three years of the Goods and Service Tax, GST with the Value Added Tax, VAT purposely to broaden the revenue base, ensure Liberia's commitment to ECOWAS tax harmonization and also reflect the government's adherence to the advice of the IMF.

Stakeholders present at the meeting lauded the Ministry for the initiative pledging their support to any plans that would speed the process of and make easy their business operations. The Liberia Chamber of Commerce 3rd Vice President, Tony Hage requested for the document to be circulated to the business community.

Finance Ministry Holds TAX Clinic FOR Large Taxpayers

September 20, 2010: The Ministry of Finance has completed a one-day tax clinic for large taxpayers from the extractive industry sector with a promise to improve relations between the tax payers and the government in terms of service delivery. The tax clinic was held on Friday, September 17, 2010 at the Finance Ministry.

The New Commissioner for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Juah Fekai assured the representatives of Large Taxpayers at the clinic that with the new three year strategic plan approved recently, the Ministry of Finance will ensure that large tax Payers are given premium services. Commissioner Fekai spoke of the need for what she calls a strong mobilized partnership between the taxpayers and the Ministry of Finance in collecting due revenue for the government.

During the interactive session with the large taxpayers, the Acting Principal Director for the Large Tax Division at the Ministry of Finance, Dixon Seboe said Large Tax payers account for no fewer than 80% of taxes collected under internal revenue despite its size. Mr. Seboe said the Ministry of Finance has set a target of 147Million US Dollars to be generated from Large Taxpayers in support of the fiscal budget for 2010/2011. He praised the Large Taxpayers for meeting their monthly targets in paying government their due taxes.

Also speaking to the Large Taxpayers, the Head of Audits, Eric Nagbe said as part of the reform process, the Ministry of Finance is recruiting staff and procuring equipment to update the system in meeting the public demands. Mr. Nagbe reminded taxpayers of their right to appeal provided for under the Revenue Code of Liberia whenever they are not satisfied with the billing process.

Among issues raised by representatives of the Large Tax payers were concerns surrounding penalties and interests which the lead facilitator, Mr. Dixon Seboe responded to by reminding the taxpayers that the country currently runs a self-declaratory regime which requires all taxpayers to make their own declaration stating that it is the responsibility of the taxpayers to pay their taxes as and when they are due. The tax payers also raised concerns about presumptive tax, withholding taxes, tax clearance and Good and Service Tax, GST to which appropriate responses were provided by the facilitators including Bruce Quaye, the Chief Enforcer, Jomaxim Jolo of the Records, Return and Registration Section.

The tax clinic comes on the heels of the expiration of the Temporary Amnesty Payment Incentive Scheme, TAPIS, on September 30, 2010. The TAPIS provides for the waiver or reduction of penalties and interests on taxes due government. It comes about as a result of Executive Order number 26 issued by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on June 28, 2010 and took effect as at July 1, 2010.

Ministry of Finance Press Release
September 10, 2010

In a bid to find solutions to problems affecting the ease of doing business in Liberia, the Ministry of Finance has been holding consultations with stakeholders in the business sector. The Public-Private dialogue brings together members of the business community including the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Business Association, Concerned Liberian Business Organization, COLIMBO, Fulah Business Association, World Lebanese Cultural Union and other stakeholders.

At the 7th stakeholders consultation held recently in the conference room of the Finance Ministry, Deputy Finance Minister for Revenue Elfreida Stewart Tamba informed the stakeholders that beginning January 1, 2011 the government intends to introduce some rates particular that which protect local manufacturers, making reference to the Common ECOWAS Tariff, CET. She said this was a decision coming out of the last ECOWAS meeting held in the Gambia. Deputy Minister Tamba said the CET was delayed because the ECOWAS was still discussing the issue particularly with inputs from Nigeria.

One sticky issue raised by the business community is the inspection regime which they described as problematic and wants the Finance Ministry make some improvements. In response, Mrs. Tamba admitted to challenges in the Destination Inspection, DI regime but was quick to inform the forum that a request for funding has been presented to the International Finance Corporation, IFC promising that in a year or two significance improvements would be made in the inspection regime.

The Ministry also used the occasion to brief the stakeholders of the Bureau of Internal Revenue three year strategic-plans and the Customs Modernization. Bureau of Customs and Excise Commissioner, Decontee King-Sackie said the customs modernization is intended to bring Liberia's customs with international standard thereby reducing the burden business people encounter which triggers down to the consuming public. Deputy Commissioner for Operations, BIR Jeremiah Sackie presenting the three year strategic plan of the Bureau of Internal Revenue said the plan intends to make an effective, consistent and accountable revenue administration of high reputation for high quality service delivery by 2012.

Earlier, the stakeholders ironed out issues surrounding the Ministry adoption of a more robust approach in its public awareness campaign; the inadequacy of Destination Inspection facilities at the Free Port of Monrovia; BIVAC's delay in the issuance of the Clean Report of Finding, CRF and Complaints of constant harassment of taxpayers from Customs collectors in rural areas.

In her closing remarks, Deputy Minister Tamba reminded taxpayers that the temporary Tax Amnesty for people in the large tax category ends September 31, 2010. She urged those in the category to take advantage of the scheme which allows tax payers to pay only the taxes and waive penalties and interests accrued as the result of their non-compliance. The Temporary Amnesty Payment Incentive Scheme came about as a result of Executive Order Number 26, issued by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on June 28, 2010.


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Networks in Liberia

Cell Phones (GSM)

Liberia has four GSM mobile operators that are competing for customers - LoneStar (majority owned by South Africa's MTN), Comium, Cellcom and LiberCell.

Fixed Wireless Company

The Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC, now Libtelco) has resuscitated the previously neglected Telecom with a wireless 3G system based on CDMA EV-DO technology, enabling LIBTELCO to enter the mobile market as a fifth player who is providing wireless broadband services. There are also plans for a national fibre backbone network.

Internet services are available from a number of wireless ISPs and the mobile networks using GPRS, EDGE and WiMAX technology. The high cost and limited bandwidth of existing satellite connections means that most service offerings today are expensive and below broadband speed. Improvements can be expected from the arrival of international fibre optic submarine cables to the country's shores for the first time in 2010/11.

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