By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
In the wake of a local media editorial accusing the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) of usurping the function of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) by collecting revenues in the forestry sector, the Managing Director of the FDA, C. Mike Doryen clarifies that the Forestry Development Authority has the legal rights to “raise and spend money.”
An editorial published recently in a local daily said among other things that one of the missions of the Forestry Development Authority is for the entity to ensure that the appropriate taxes, fees and levies are collected, which the paper said does not mean that FDA should be the custodian of the funds collected.
The local daily also editorialized that in the extreme situation where the FDA’s agents are the ones who did the collection, the FDA can’t be the custodian of those funds that it amasses from people who pay taxes of other fees on certain forest products, adding that this is what the FDA has been and is doing, which the paper thinks, is totally against the law creating the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
But FDA Managing Director Doryen further clarified that the FDA was given said legitimate authority after the Supreme Court in March of 2017 ruled in its favor in the case, “The Workers Union of the FDA versus the FDA” in which the national forestry company was given the right to raise and spend money.
He indicated that of late, there has been concern from the Liberia Revenue Authority of which the FDA has clarified contrary to perception that they are collecting fees and not taxes.
He quoted reports that the LRA is said to be investigating the collection of monies from companies doing business with the FDA in the form of taxes, But the FDA boss said his entity has maintained that it is collecting legal fees and not taxes.
In a media engagement yesterday, the FDA boss responded to a question raised by reporters relative to the latest funds FDA collected after the management put in place what it considers “a new workable and transparent system” aimed at generating money for the entity.
Speaking to Reporters Wednesday, the FDA Managing Director Doryen said after realizing the delay in releasing allotments to the FDA by national Government, he, as head of the entity – along with his able and crack team saw the need to creatively put in place a transparent and accountable system backed by the legal authority to ensure the smooth running of the entity.
“We have instituted a mobile money system for the collection of payments for non-timber products, and it has significantly help in revenue growth”, Mr. Doryen added.
Displaying the growth rate to reporters, Mr. Doryen disclosed that unlike in the past, and as a result of the new introduction of the mobile money system in just three months, the FDA was able to raise about 20 Million Liberian dollars.
He outlined to media practitioners that in 2014 January and December, a total of 6.7m Liberian dollars was raised while in January and December of 2015 a total of 7.8 million Liberian dollars was also collected.
Moreover, in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively a total of over 15.6 Million Liberian dollars were also collected by the entity.
Doryen said the reintroduction of the cash management system has helped the entity greatly and has brought about control, reduction of risk as well as the control on how monies are taken and used.
“Let me restate for the records that we collect fees and not taxes; and it is a transparent and accountable process”, he reiterated.
The clarification of Mr. Doryen apparently is in reaction to reports and editorial from a local daily accusing the FDA authority of usurping the function of the Liberian Revenue Authority (LRA).
It can be recalled that On February 24, 2020, a local daily ran an editorial in which the paper inquired “Why Liberia Revenue Authority Collectors Aren’t Assigned At Those Forestry Development Authority Checkpoints?”