Liberia’s Revenue Authority Chief Heads WATAF…Assures Proactive Leadership

(Monrovia, Wednesday, October 12, 2016): The Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, has been inducted as Chair of the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) in a colorful ceremony held at the 11th General Assembly of the heads of West Africa Tax Administrations held in Dakar Senegal from 28 – 29 September, 2016. WATAF is the ECOWAS auxiliary for all tax administrations across West Africa.

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Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, Commissioner General of Liberia Revenue Authoroty and WATAF’s new head

The Establishment of WATAF was inspired by the deliberation of West African Tax administrations held in Abuja Nigeria on 12th September, 2011 and CG Tamba is one of the founding pillars of WATAF.

WATAF members believe that a key ingredient of any effective nation is the existence of a fair, transparent, efficient and effective tax administration which is fundamental to sustainable development.’

In her inaugural address Mrs. Tamba thanked her predecessor and all members of the WATAF Secretariat hosted by Nigeria Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for the hard work and strives made to achieve WATAF 15/16 goals.

She specifically acknowledged ECOWAS, GIZ, Ford Foundation, EU and the Nigeria Government for their continuous support towards the achievement of the mission and vision of WATAF and called for their continued support to facilitate and ensure successful implementation of WATAF programs.

Further in her remarks, CG Tamba, emphasized three core goals she will aim to net during her tenure which covers 2016/2017.

She identified her first goal as Enhancing awareness of the significance of tax administration in the region by having tax administration more prominently featured on ECOWAS agenda and support of the African Development Bank (ADB).

Secondly, her tenure will work to ensure the committees on Finance, Account and General Purpose, Exchange of Information and Research and Capacity Development are functional and effective, while the third goal will ensure implementation of planned activities for 2016/2017.

In closing, CG Tamba expressed her intention to be proactive in working with the Secretariat in order to achieve its planned activities. She promised to ensure her availability to the secretariat through a dedicated and focused person in order to facilitate effective and timely coordination and feedback as may be required for moving WATAF activities forward.

In his handover speech, the outgoing WATAF Chairman, Sheikh Ahmed Ba, thanked all Members Countries for the support accorded him during his tenure as Chairman of WATAF.

He named the encouragement of dialogues amongst members’ countries, harmonization of taxes in the West African Region and sharing of best practices amongst Tax Administrations in the region as major accomplishment over the period of his Chairmanship.

He said it is now time for tax administrations to diversify focus from generating revenues mainly from natural resources to other sources including telecommunications. Mr. Ba concluded by admonishing incoming WATAF Council Chair to work firmly to increase domestic resources in the region.

Also present was the Permanent Secretary to the Senegalese Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Sheikh Tidjani Diop who proxied for the Minister proper who was out of Country. Permanent Secretary Diop highlighted tourism as a new phenomenon of domestic resources in Senegal.

He mentioned increasing need for domestic resources and the potential of Africa, especially the need for West Africa to tap into its potential.

Mr. Diop also highlighted the need for countries in the region to follow the Senegalese government patriotic leadership in administering fiscal affairs.

He said prudent fiscal expenditure in infrastructure and good fiscal reporting has been at the foundation of their administration and that has seen Senegal maintain its position in the region.

He called on Tax Authorities to establish reasonable relationship with the Expenditure entity of Government to properly answer to tax payers queries of “where does the money go” or collecting revenue will continue to be difficult in the region.

The Senegalese diplomat congratulated Mrs Tamba and admonished her to keep the region united in efforts to strengthen resource mobilization and pledge his Government continuous support to the wholesome functioning of WATAF and ECOWAS.

Meanwhile, in her final statement, Chair Tamba called on all members to aim to score the goals.

At her first presiding as Chair, and amongst other key issues, it was adopted by the General Assembly that the French acronym for WATAF, which is FOFOA be included in the WATAF logo to confirm togetherness as this approach is similar to the ECOWAS logo.

Mrs. Tamba promised to be a dynamic Chair championing her advocacy for appropriate investments and strong political support in strengthening revenue administration and the collection of the lawful and fair revenues due our region and its people, noting that revenue authorities play a pivotal role in helping facilitate improvement in the living standard of their respective peoples.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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