Smoking Gun: How Elfreda Tamba Has Ripped-Off The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Part II

Elfreda Tamba

Commissioner General of Liberia Revenue Authority, Elfreda Tamba Image: FPA


By Leon M. Talery

My fellow comrades and cadres, while it may seem that I am not competent to judge the sociological, economic and financial competence of the LRA on variety of issues, my prose will justify some facts about the abrasive and worsening conditions of employees’ management as well as financial and revenue indecorums of an authoritarian reign of Elfrieda Tamba, Commissioner General of the LRA. Better still, this narrative will provide account of chocking incidences of misjudgments emanating from induced fear among employees which has led to the apocalypse of brain drain within the Liberia Revenue Authority. Again, all of which are fused by the defiant attitude of Elfrieda Tamba, a step daughter of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and one of the many mundane stooges recommended to President Weah by Madam Sirleaf to stay on in the Weah-led government. Should she continue to provide oversight on the affairs of the LRA in this new dispensation? Well, that will not be the decision of Liberians but rely on the judgement of their chosen leadership. Nevertheless, as a patriot am obliged to provide or make

public the findings of the qualitative research I have conducted on the administration of the LRA in recent time.

A qualitative review and evaluation of the effectiveness on budget and spending at the LRA by inside sources have revealed trailing revelation on misapplication of budget and designated funds for projects as well as revenue crimes, which if remain unexposed may render Elfrieda as a savior in revenue collection in the history of Liberia. However, there were some intriguing questions that flashed across my brains and sprouted my investigation on the effectiveness of the LRA. As such, those questions are: Why is the BIVAC contract renew when there is a fully functional revenue authority, which is capable of implementing destination inspection of imported goods? Has BIVAC fulfilled its responsibilities to customs and the customs brokers of Liberia as per its contract with the Government of Liberia? How are duty free incentives managed at the LRA? Is the revenue reported by the LRA the actual revenue collected during each reporting period? What is leading to perpetual recruitment of employees at the Revenue Authority? These are among the few questions asked for which the LRA is to provide answers.

It can be recalled that BIVAC contract was renewed few months ago after a healthy negotiation with the Government of Liberia. A process to which Elfrieda Tamba played a major role in ensuring the renewal of the

contract. It can also be recalled that the Management of BIVAC made several visits to Elfrieda and assured her of huge ransom should the contract be renewed. Elfrieda, being the head of the implementing agency (i.e the LRA) that supervises the activities of BIVAC through customs declarations by importers, mandated the Legal Department of the LRA, which is headed by Max Duncan to review the previous contract of BIVAC, outline all of the glitches and failures and issue an advice to her (Madam Tamba). After all the documentation of the findings of the previous BIVAC contract, Elfrida then singularly requested a meeting with the Management of BIVAC. In said meeting, she alerted the BIVAC with the findings and acclaimed that the Government was outraged about the failures and non-compliance of BIVAC to some provisions of the contract. She further asserted that on account of bridging several provisions, the Government was not in the position to reward pre-shipment inspection contract to BIVAC any longer. BIVAC certainly pleaded with Mrs. Tamba and paid her a huge bribe. Accordingly, BIVAC management further pleaded that they will increase the existing personal quarterly payment of Ten Thousand United States Dollars to Elfrieda should the contract be renewed. The latter cash incentive which is regularly paid to Elfrida quarterly has formed the basis for which the LRA Commissioner lobbied strongly and convincingly for the renewal of the contract. Again, the reward of personal monies to Mrs. Tamba aside

from the revenue sharing agreement with the Government is the obvious reason why Customs Department and the customs brokers did not benefit from the corporate responsibility as contained in the BIVAC contract and no alarm was raised given violation of provisions of the contract by BIVAC.

Duty Free incentive is awarded by a country to diplomatic missions, multilateral organizations, concessions, and other prominent citizens for reciprocal social and economic benefits. It is an effort directed towards improving the investment climate for job creation, income generation and provision of basic social services to the publics for improved standard of living. According to the LRA’s 2015 Annual Report, US$108.7m was recorded as total waiver (both General goods and Petroleum product) in 2015 although succeeding year recorded US$130m. Of the total waivers for the period, investment and concession accounts for 49%. Now, in the administration of the duty free incentives by the LRA, our findings revealed that there is no limitation on the kind of goods brought in country by these two categories of economic businesses whereas the revenue code only allows duty free on machinery and equipment as direct benefit to said economic activity of investment. However, containers of cosmetics, toiletries, detergents and other commercial consumables as well as luxury vehicles are imported without paying a dime to Government’s account but rather a percentage

goes to the commissioner General of the LRA as private gift. To conceal her deals, Mrs. Tamba’s Office receives all duty free applications and only pass on clearance instructions to the Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Saa Saamoi for implementation of her orders which the release of the goods at the port of entry. Without regulation and audit, she is indeed awarding endless duty free incentives to large businesses owned and operated by Lebanese, Indians and other foreign nationals for ransom. That is why the advocacy of reduction in tariffs on imported goods is only pursue by Liberian businesses and not the aforesaid. Indeed, this action generates huge revenue loss to Liberia but yet rewards Elfrieda with quarterly cash benefits from concessions and business men in Liberia. This monster also shares ten percent of every domestic revenue generated during her tenue with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. What a pity for Liberia.

Employment is a non-stop process at the LRA due to a myopic perception harbors by the Commissioner Tamba that all native Liberians are corrupt and inefficient. She hires and fires at will and sets her predetermined conditions which always deviate from the HR policy of the entity. A classic example is, Mr. Tamba ordered the firing of all LRA drivers that are not High School Graduate but yet maintained her driver who is not a six grader. She fired other professionals we named in our previous release (Smoking Guns) and discriminates in giving salaries and incentives to employees of equal titles in the same entity. She has

subdued the entire workforce of the LRA with charms and silenced everyone. Now that the end of her term is close at hand, she has sought endorsement through Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to President George Manneh Weah to serve another term at the LRA. We the conscious minded comrades are poised to expose some of the discriminations, ineffectiveness and financial mismanagement of budget at the LRA.

As you may be aware, to preserve the integrity of employees, the LRA through its act has designed incentive package (which contains medical insurance, educational allowance, transportation, phone cards, gasoline, etc) for all employees. While some of these incentives were discretely administered to specific individuals on the orders of Elfrieda Tamba, some employees are not receiving any. To silence the employees on any disagreement which they may have with the management of the entity, she established a grievance committee that reports to her as a way of managing all complaints. She is a modern day dictator.

Another profound manipulation by monster Tamba over the years is the LRA budget. As we are aware, the National Budget formulation for FY2018-2019 is ongoing. Therefore, heads of spending entities are submitting their fiscal year budget to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for review, negotiation and appropriation. As you may be aware, the Government is also cleaning up payrolls of all entities.

Presently, the LRA recurrent expenditure is low due to the firing and non-replacement of fired employees. To outsmart the Minister of Finance, Elfrieda has mandated the HR Division of the LRA to massively recruit and fill all vacant positions so that the LRA fiscal year budget be justified beyond the US$19m the entity receives during each period. Elfrieda has been a monster that has stirred up the preponderance of psychological and emotional hardship on Liberians across the country on employees, private citizens and business entities. Therefore, she must be audited and she must bear the consequences thereof.

Currently, all positions aside from the presidential appointments and contractors are permanent at the Revenue Authority, owing to the fact that employment is done through a competitive recruitment process. In recent time, Elfrieda has been negotiating to serve another term at the LRA. As such, she has told the hierarchy of the ruling CDC that she Elfrieda will declare all positions as non-permanent at the LRA as a strategy to employ based upon the demand of the ruling party, CDC, while in exchange she will maintain her position as Commissioner General. As such, the chairman of the CDC, Mr. Mulbah K. Morlu Jr. issued an executive memo to Elfrieda Tamba and ordered her to employ seventy-five names attached to the memo. Some of the positions to be filled include: Commissioner, Domestic Tax; Assistant Commissioner, Micro Small and medium Tax; Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource

Division; Assistant Commissioner, Urban and Rural Ports; Assistant Commissioner, Compliance; Manager, Medium Tax Enforcement; Manager, Sector Ministry; Customs Officer; Accountant among others. I cannot imagine the preponderance of economic, social and psychological consequences that will erupt at the LRA. Indeed, the president needs to advert the situation and oust Elfrieda from the Revenue Authority.

Some may wonder why Efrieda Tamba services should be terminated when she is serving a tenure. Oh yes, the same constitutional precedence applied for which the President of Tubman University did not end his term must be applied. Again the President still has the constitution mandate to appoint officials as justified by the Minister of Information on the removal and replacement of the LEITI Head of Secretariat. The Minister of Information justified the removal of the LEITI boss on account that the Multi-Sector Working Group (MSG) that was constituted the former president no longer exist since indeed there was a transition. Indeed, the same applies to the tenure of Elfrieda. She was confirmed by the 53rd Legislature which no longer exist but rather the 54th Legislature. Therefore, if she must head the LRA, then she must receive a mandate from the current legislature. President Weah, please read carefully the inscription on the Temple of Justice of the Republic of Liberia which says “Let Justice be done to All.” We are watching you carefully.

Leon M. Talery is the Chairman of Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA), a leftist organization geared at agitating, politically educating, and organizing Liberians behind noble causes. He can be reached at Alternatively, on cell #: +231880819576/770472278.

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