The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

PBPL 85 Visits the Liberian Revenue Authority

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets with the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority.

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets with officials at the Liberian Revenue Authority. 

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class visits a graduate school at the University of Liberia.

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets with officials at the Liberian Revenue Authority, in order to conduct research for their policy memo. 

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class visits a graduate school at the University of Liberia and sits in on a class of adults working towards a master's degree.

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The day began at 8:30am to the cacophonous sounds of Tubman Boulevard, one of Monrovia’s main streets. My shower which does either ice cold or scorching hot decided it would be an ice cold day and my shirt, which does either white or stained, decided it would be a stained day. My big decision of the day was switching my allegiance from Monroe Chicken to The Hub. Hopefully my GI tract agrees with this. It’s been well behaved thus far.

The day began with a meeting at the Liberian Revenue Authority. This was far and away the nicest building that we have visited. The inside of the building looked like it could have been a bank in the United States. The boardroom was well equipped with presentation materials and we were served an assortment of nuts. The meeting shed some light on the different forms of revenue collection across the country. It was interesting to hear about the organization’s efforts to expand revenue collection efforts by appealing to the national sentiment and creating a shift in the culture.

Just as we have been documenting our meetings (for this blog), several students were selected to do interviews for LRA publicity. Ray and Else conducted themselves with great authority.

After the LRA meeting, we saw a rally outside of the Sunset Inn. Hundreds of people sitting on the back of pick-up trucks were celebrating presidential candidate George Weah. I wondered if the Supreme Court had ruled in his favor, but a man at the front desk informed me that he had successfully negotiated the release of Liberians being held in Libya. Seems like pretty good campaign strategy to me.

The second portion of the day was spent in a graduate school at the University of Liberia. The school was dilapidated and run-down and the classrooms were small and poorly equipped. We sat in on a class of middle-aged professionals that were working toward a master’s degree. The professor took the role of mediator as the class engaged in a Socratic style discussion about natural resource concessions. I was impressed with how knowledgeable the students were and took away some insights for my section in the memo.

The evening was reserved for dinner and memo discussions. We had seen evidence of a Dominos Pizza, but failed to find it. We settled for some local pizza and local beer (Club Beer).

The memo deadline was fast approaching, so we needed to finalize the format of the document. We also needed to choose a deadline that would accommodate those who needed more time to structure their recommendations and editors who would then need time to edit the document. After spirited discussions, we designed a scheme to please both editors and writers by setting our due date at 4am on Saturday. I guess the all-nighter is inevitable at this point. 

Written by Oscar Guerra​ '18, a 17F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership course participant

This is part of a series where student reflect on their experiences during the field research portion of the PBPL 85:Global Policy Leadership course. The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class is conducting two weeks of research in Liberia during the off-campus portion of the course, in order to produce a comprehensive policy memo. During Dartmouth’s winter interim, students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

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