President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Pres. Sirleaf Vetoes Tax Amendment Bill, Proffers Proposals
By Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, September 19 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has vetoed a House Enrolled Bill titled: "Liberia Tax Amendment Act of 2016,” amending the Liberia Revenue Code of 2011.
The Liberian leader said Monday in a communication addressed to Deputy House Speaker, Hans Barchue, that the Bill as enacted by the Legislature, will not have the real desired fiscal impact, especially considering the current impact of the global economic downturn on the Liberian economy.
She said the Bill will also have an adverse impact given other measures government has taken, which include Liberia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and status as signatory to the ECOWAS Common External Tariff and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).
President Sirleaf has, however, notified the House of her desire to re-submit a Bill on the subject Bill, with proposal which, according to her, if not accepted, will portend disastrous consequences for the nation's fiscal budget for 2016/2017.
She said this is because, resources required for conducting elections, preparation for UNMIL draw-down and undertaking critical social services will not be available.
Consistent with the vetoed legislation, President Sirleaf said that the proposal to adjust Liberia's Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 10% will not only raise US$20 million for the national budget, but will help to ensure that Liberian goods and services remain competitive within the context of ETLS and WTO.
She said the proposal to increase the Excise Tax rate on Tobacco from 50% to 80% is consistent with the ECOWAS CET as well as what is obtaining in other jurisdictions relative to the health consequence of tobacco.
"This measure is estimated to add US$1.1 million to Liberia's 2016/2017 fiscal Budget," President Sirleaf said.
Among other suggestion to the House, President Sirleaf said the proposal to increase the Excise Tax rate on alcoholic beverage from 35% to 45% is based on similar health concern, adding that "this measure is estimated to add US$3.3 million to the national budget.
Meanwhile, the House has noted and accepted the proposal as was contained in the communication and the body is expected to hold a debate on the matter on Tuesday, September 20.