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Friday, June 14, 2024

LRA TO ADOPT INTER-AGENCY STRATEGY TO COMBAT TAX & FINANCIAL CRIMES

Date:

MONROVIA,  LIBERIA – Hosted by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Tax Inspectors Without Borders for Criminal Investigations (TIWB-CI) workshop assessing Liberia’s capacity to combat tax and financial crimes has concluded with a call for a ‘Whole of Government Approach’ as a practical way to deal with the menace.

Sponsored by UNDP/OECD, the workshop identified 16 priority recommendations including legal and legislative reforms and capacity building initiatives  aimed at strengthening Liberia’s tax and financial crimes investigation capabilities.

UNDP TIWB-CI expert Ms. Olivia Okello, who facilitated the workshop, will spearhead the development of a comprehensive action plan from the recommendations to promote inter-agency collaboration in combating tax and financial crimes and enhancing revenue capacity.

In his remarks on behalf of Commissioner General James Dorbor Jallah, Eddie Howe, LRA’s Assistant Commissioner of Government and Non-Profit Division, lauded the initiative, participants, and partners. He emphasized that while recommendations have been made, true success lies in implementing them to elevate Liberia’s tax crime regime, leading to increased revenues and progress towards the $1 billion target or beyond.

Howe stressed, “The need for a whole of government approach cannot be overstated,” urging everyone to remain committed to fighting tax and financial crimes to improve the country for all citizens.

The workshop attracted 31 participants from various crime investigation-related government agencies, including the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, General Auditing Commission, Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Service, Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and the Financial Intelligence Agency.

According to Ms. Okello, “The objective of the workshop was met as it allowed the LRA to self-assess its investigative capacity using the OECD Maturity Model. However, there is still much to be done, particularly in fostering inter-agency cooperation under the ‘whole of government approach’.”

To achieve these goals, Okello recommended additional training and technical assistance for LRA and its partner agencies. She also emphasized the need to revise legislative frameworks and modernize the Liberia Revenue Code and the Act creating the LRA to address present-day challenges, including illicit financial flows.

Okello highlighted the adoption of the ‘whole of government approach’ as the next objective, emphasizing effective inter-agency cooperation. Under the action plan, responsibilities will be assigned to participating government entities, defining their roles in the collaborative effort.

Participants expressed gratitude to the LRA for leading the initiative and commended the facilitators and UNDP for their insightful presentations. They expressed optimism that Liberia can combat tax and financial crimes when the recommendations from the workshop are implemented, emphasizing the importance of inter-agency collaboration.

UNDP National Economist Stanley Kamara commended the participants for their commitment and described the workshop as a successful endeavor. He encouraged continued learning in tax and financial crimes investigations, emphasizing its benefits for individuals, entities, and the country at large.”

The Manager of the Financial Intelligence Division at the LRA, Shine Williams, expressed his elation as the focal person on the TIWB-CI initiative. He highlighted the significant progress made during the 4-day workshop (April 8-11, 2024) in assessing Liberia’s capacity using international benchmarks. Williams expressed confidence that the Management will wholeheartedly support the project to bolster the LRA and Liberia as a whole in combating tax crimes and enhancing the country’s revenue.

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