By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, has announced that there are serious tax evasions taking place in the economy of the country which has resulted to a shortfall in the 2013-2014 national budgets. This situation has drawn the attention of Mr. Konneh to the extent that he has organized a taskforce group to vigorously go out beginning today and collect all taxes because as he puts it, the Ministry is experiencing low progress in revenue generation.
According to him, the slow-down in economic activity has been discovered in the Department of Customs and Revenue with linkages in the area of duty free taxation.
Speaking yesterday when he appeared before members of the House of Representatives to discuss the implementation status of the legislative budgetary inputs of the 2013-2014 budget, Minister Konneh said the current budget is under pressure due to delay in certain areas of revenue collection.
The Finance Minister outlined that US$3.8m from the sales of LiberCell GSM Company through the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has not been realized while US$4.6m fines from ships trespassing on the Liberian water through the Ministry of Agriculture has also not been actualized in the budget.
He added that US$3m from the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) and US$1m from the National Port Authority (NTA) as support to the budget have also caused delay in the country’s envelop.
Minister Konneh told the lawmakers that US$296.5m was projected in the approved 2013/2014 budget but up to January 8, 2014, only US$278.8m was generated.
The Minister along with his team of Deputy Ministers for Budget, Revenue and Expenditure disclosed that the country needs US$2 billion for recovery in the budget. He also reported that US$222.6m has been expended yearly as salaries for all government employees while US$15.9m was spent on goods and services.