NAIROBI, KENYA, DECEMBER 7 — Revenue authorities in East Africa must come up with more innovative ways of addressing emerging customs revenue policy and administrative challenges.
This was reached during the 45th East African Revenue Authorities Commissioners General (EARACGs) and the Regional Joint Coordination Committee Meeting (RJCC) held in Nairobi this week.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiraini called upon all EAC Revenue Authorities to invest in innovation in order to achieve better results.
Njiraini urged the East African Revenue Authorities Technical Committee (EARATC) to continue devoting their best efforts for the betterment of revenue mobilization and development of Member States.
The meeting, hosted by KRA, brought together Commissioners General from the region and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as the Japan’s Ministry of Finance.
The main goal of these meetings is to ensure that the Revenue Authorities in the region work together towards the harmonization of tax regimes in the region aimed at fostering competitiveness, employment, and further contribute to the sustainability of public finances and eventually economic growth in the region.
The meeting emphasized on harmonization of customs systems for ease of sharing and exchange of information, harmonization of business processes and establishment of a regional clearing agents framework.
Njiraini said these will enhance trade facilitation and border control.
“We should have Information Systems compatibility to give us visibility of across the systems platforms to monitor and track the goods declaration and clearance processes across our borders,” Mr. Njiraini said.
The Commissioner General pointed out the use of Regional Electronic Tracking System (RECTS) as a step forward, adding that there is need to broaden it through other Information Systems integration.
On Clearing Agents Framework, the Commissioner General said clearing agents play key role in trade facilitation and that there is need for mutual recognition of the agents.
He emphasized that this can only happen if there is an established and agreed upon Clearing Agents Framework.
The commissioners meeting comes barely a week after the commissioning of the Namanga One Stop Border Post by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magufuli.
Officially commissioned on Dec 1, the OSBP which has been operational for the better part of this year has increased efficiency especially in goods and passenger clearance moving across Kenya and Tanzania , thereby enhanced national security and safety as well as improved trade and investment environment.
The East African Revenue Authorities Technical Committee (EARATC) assists the Commissioners General in identifying challenges, carry out studies and analyse technical issues in tax administration and providing appropriately researched recommendations in line with international best practice and subsequently ensure implementation of the agreed recommendations.
Ms. Keiko Sano, Chief representative JICA Kenya Office, reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to support OSBP development in Africa, a pledge made during the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) held in Nairobi in 2008.
“Since then, JICA has been deeply involved in OSBP development including funding the detailed design and construction of OSBP at Namanga, together with technical cooperation for its operationalization and capacity building,” said Ms. Keiko.
Ms. Brendah Mundia, Deputy Director, Capacity Building, World Customs Organisation noted that Customs, working with other border agencies, plays a pivotal role in facilitating trade and travel and securing the borders among other roles fiscal and non-fiscal roles.
“It is, therefore, essential for Customs to take the lead in consolidating and further amplifying the ongoing efforts to ease the flow of goods and people across borders, thus turning globalization into a positive force,” she said.
The EARATC’s key achievements in the past few years include the annual publication of the Regional Comparative Revenue Report, Performance Based Pay, Succession Management Framework,technical assistance to South Sudan in establishing her revenue administration, and study and analysis of production sharing agreements.
It has also helped with identification of inadequacies in the laws targeting the extractive industry,TADAT assessment in revenue authorities, talent optimization and establishment of the rulings database on decisions taken by courts or tribunals that affect Revenue Collection.
Other achievements include addressing emerging concern on increased volume of transit of sensitive goods through Kenya and Tanzania to non-EAC countries, harmonization of tax procedures, establishment of forensic laboratories, tax payment through electronic devices, formation of international tax offices, taxation of multinational corporations and making revenue authorities become a single revenue collector.