Authorities of WAEC Liberia and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) on Monday, held a consultative meeting to discuss ways both institutions can further strengthen tax compliance regulations signed between LRA, WAEC, and the Ministry of Education for private schools across the country under a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.
The meeting which was held at the Head Office of the LRA in Paynesville was intended for both institutions to look at challenges encountered in the implementation process of the Pilot phase of the MoU and to find ways in mitigating them.
It can be recalled that the three institutions in March 2021 signed an MoU aimed at ensuring that private schools operating in the country are tax compliant. It was observed that many of the schools were operating in blatant disregard to the Tax law by refusing to remit into government’s account the ten percent Withholding Taxes on teachers’ salaries and wages.
The MoU therefore intends to ensure that before a school register for any of the WAEC examinations it should be in possession of a valid Business Registration Certificate from the Liberia Business Registry, an up-to-date Operational Permit from the Ministry of Education, and Tax Clearance from the Liberia Revenue Authority indicating full compliance.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, LRA Commissioner General Thomas Doe Nah lauded WAEC for the level of cooperation exhibited in the implementation of the policy and hoped that the entity does more in the coming years, as its involvement in the pilot phase served as a boost to the exercise, as many schools have begun regularizing their statuses with the LRA.
Mr. Doe Nah noted that it is unfair for owners and administrators of schools to withhold ten percent of their teachers’ salaries and wages and are refusing to remit those monies to government through the LRA. He called on schools to adhere to this policy as it is intended not to punish them but to legitimize them.
For his part, WAEC Liberia Head of National Office, Dale G. Gbotoe thanked LRA for initiating such collaboration between and amongst the three institutions and pledged his institution’s fullest involvement to ensure that the objective of the MoU is fully achieved and sustained.
Mr. Gbotoe however informed the LRA Commissioner General that WAEC could not adequately implement its enforcement side of the MoU during the pilot phase due to insufficient time allotted for the exercise as well as delay on the part of the Liberia Business Registry to issue business registration certificates to schools.
He therefore pleaded with parties involved to play their roles adequately to give WAEC the strength to erect the necessary checkpoints during its registration exercise by ensuring it only accepts schools that are in right standing with the LRA and the Ministry of Education before they get registered.
The WAEC Head of National Office also stressed the need for a massive sensitization and awareness campaign to be carried out, as it has been agreed by both parties that the exercise will be rolling out in additional six counties: Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount, Margibi, and Nimba.
Mr. Gbotoe assured the LRA of his institution’s readiness to be part of all public engagements, awareness, sensitization, and outreach campaigns across the country to ensure that the objective of the exercise is adequately achieved.
At the close of the meeting, both institutions agreed to hold discussions with authorities of the Ministry of Education and Liberia Business Registry to resolve some of the issues that served as bottlenecks during the implementation of the first phase of the exercise.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Ministry of Education is responsible to submit to the LRA a comprehensive list of all private schools that are issued permits on a semi-annual basis, while WAEC Liberia, under the MoU is responsible to ensure that all private schools registering their candidates present LRA issued Tax Clearance certificates and current permits from MoE.
WAEC is to also share with the LRA and MoE, data of all schools in its registry for each calendar year.
The LRA under the MoU is responsible to grant access to MoE to its Standard Integrated Tax Administration System for the purpose of validating fees paid for permits, develop tax education materials for civic education and outreach purposes amongst others.