European Union announces completion of Lebanon tax reform project
Dana Halawi| The Daily Star
Dec. 13, 2014
BEIRUT: The European Union announced Friday the completion of a project to modernize Lebanon’s tax administration after nearly two years of cooperation between the French and Lebanese Finance departments. The 1.85 million euro EU-funded project aimed at enhancing Lebanon’s tax collection process both quantitatively and qualitatively through administrative reform, greater transparency and efficient communication with citizens.
“Lebanon is a priority for the European Union today because the country is facing many challenges that need to be addressed,” EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst said during a ceremony held at the Grand Serail to celebrate the completion of the program.
“France was capable of bringing exceptional expertise and I hope that this big amount was very well used to improve the fiscal performance,” she said of the cooperation between the French General Directorate of Public Finances and its Lebanese counterpart to improve tax collection in Lebanon.
Eichhorst added that the EU would continue to support the implementation of reform programs in Lebanon and has agreed with the government on several future projects that will contribute to economic reform.“There always exists political reasons that stop our movement but we hope in the three years to come to be able to continue this very deep cooperation,” she said.
Head of the International Cooperation Mission of the GDPF Josiane Lanteri said the project was the fourth with Lebanese authorities, adding that it reflected the quality of exchange and the work accomplished between the Lebanon and France since 2006.
Lanteri said the project aimed to reinforce Lebanon’s fiscal administration by adopting actions based on modern principles such as risk analysis and proper infrastructure.
She added that this cooperation contributes to the restoration of a modern and efficient fiscal system in accordance with the best international practices. “This is essential for a government that aims to accomplish its duties toward citizens who need to count on stable resources and an efficient fiscal system,” she said, adding that a fiscal system of a country impacts the growth and creation of job opportunities.
Alain Bifani, director general of Finance Ministry, said the project succeeded in reaching its objectives, which include clamping down on fraud, improving tax collection and offering better services to tax payers. However, he added that other reforms should be implemented to ensure sustainability. Bifani said the project allowed Lebanese civil servants in the tax administration to gain insight into the areas of strengths in the taxation system of EU countries. “What is surprising is that we found out there are no important differences between our directorate and that of the European countries visited by our delegations.”