MONROVIA: The Deputy Commissioner for Technical Affairs at the Liberia Revenue Authority, Gabriel Montgomery recently conceded in open plenary at the House of Representatives that the LRA has failed to collect lawful revenues from petroleum importers in the country.
Some Petroleum importers are said to be indebted to the government of Liberia with a whopping US$ 20m plus amid their reported violation of the National Road Fund Act of 2017.
Reports say the importers include Srimex Petroleum of businessman turned politician, Musa Hassan Bility, CONEX and National Petroleum (NP) among others.
These businesses were invited by the House of Representatives to explain why are they are not in compliance with the petroleum tax, according to the National Road Fund Act, which calls for the payment of US$0.30 on each gallon of petroleum products in order to improve the road conditions.
Instead of providing reasons for their inaction, the Liberia Revenue Authority jumped in and pleaded with that august body (House of Representatives) during its recent sitting taking full responsibility of the situation.
“I have done more research, I get to understand that LRA is at fault for this money not been collected and I came to concede that there was error on our part,” Deputy Commissioner Montgomery said.
“We wrote the Justice Ministry and since we wrote the Justice Ministry, they left it with the Justice Ministry but there is no instrument for the Justice Ministry to collect the money. I came to appeal that we carry the crew (importers) back so the payment can be revised.”
He said with the identified errors on the part of the LRA a new method will be designed so that going forward the petroleum importers can go by that plan.
The LRA Deputy Commissioner recently disclosed to members of the House of Representatives that the importers owe the Liberian government US$20.3 million between 2017 and 2021, with CONEX owing the highest amount in the tune of US$7,116,278 followed by SRIMEX, US$5,982,251.66 and LPRC with US$5,826,829.51.
In addition, Aminata: US$688,982.20; Petro Trade: US$603, 0651.12; Kailondo: US$94,886.23; Nexium: US$17,075.10; and NP: US$15,820 formed the list of petroleum importers indebted to government.
The LRA Deputy Boss open apology, however met stiff resistance from the House of Representatives. The Lower House through Plenary which is the highest decision-making body endorsed a motion that the apology be published in two local dailies.
Members of the House cited that the LRA failure to do due diligence on the collection of lawful revenue was counterproductive to growth and progress of the state adding open apology in two local dailies will serve as deterrence.
Still on Capitol, the House of Representatives also fined the acting Justice Minister, Nyanti Tuan the amount of over four thousand Liberian dollars to pay in government revenue.
Minister Tuan had gone to proxy for his boss, Minister Frank Musah Dean who was held in contempt recently for failing to honor the House of Representatives’ invitation for questioning on the compliance of the Road Fund Tax.
Though others were in attendance, the Justice Minister failed to appear without justifiable reason or notification to the Lower House.