President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a stern warning to tax evaders in the country. The President stated that those found culpable of evading tax must face the full consequences of the law.
“The law must reflect the seriousness of tax collection and the consequences of default, there should be no room for tax evaders to thrive in Kenya, criminal cartels like those smuggling imported taxable goods through our ports of entry ought to be easily detected and contained in the shortest time possible,” noted the President.
While decrying anomalies in the tax collection regime, the President was categorical that high net worth individuals whose lifestyles are not reflective of the taxes they pay must be compelled to demonstrate their source of wealth and to contribute their share of the taxes accordingly.
President ordered for swiftness in the ongoing lifestyle audit for top KRA officials to ensure they are not abusing their positions. President Kenyatta noted that while majority of KRA staff had dedicated themselves to deliver quality service, there were some who have abused their positions for self-gain.
“We continue to place heavy duty on tax payers to comply with the law, however there is an equal expectation that those charged with the duty of tax collection do not use their positions of influence to engage in extortion or acts of complicity with tax evaders,” said the President.
The Head of State directed KRA to incorporate technology in all its operations and reduce the need for manual human interventions. He noted that the tax collector should use big data to predict revenue trends and to detect leakages. “From customer care operations, detection of evasion of payment of taxes, maximum advantage should be taken of Kenya’s increasing ICT literacy levels,” he said.
The Head of State also directed the National Treasury to review tax policies and propose legislation to rationalize areas of duplication, simplify compliance that encourage self-declarations and make it easier for all Kenyans to willingly pay their taxes in the most convenient way.
“The tax regime should support the aspirations of the Big Four and should be aligned to mobilize investment, both domestic and foreign, to leverage on the opportunities created therein,” emphasized the Head of State.
The President spoke when he officially launched the Kenya Revenue Authority Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) and the Integrated Scanner Command Centre (ISCC) which are expected to improve efficiency and enhance service delivery.
The RECTS was first introduced in Kenya in 2017, and is used to track transit cargo in real time across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) has been in operation for the last seven months, and has so far aided in the tracking of over 20,700 cargo containers.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said there have been concerted efforts to motivate citizens to play their civic duty of paying taxes voluntarily and that more will be done.
KRA board Chairman Amb. Francis Muthaura said the launch of the command center is part of the tax collector’s reform agenda as the authority positions itself to ensure smooth implementation of the Big Four Agenda by sealing of revenue leakages. “KRA intends to contribute effectively towards the successful implementation of the Big Four Agenda through various tax initiatives and effective revenue collection,” said Muthaura.
KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini said effective utilization of the new integrated systems does not only help in revenue collection but also speeds up clearance processes. This he says will promote trade and reduce the numerous cases of tax evasion that have been reported in the past.
In addition to iTax, other key technology driven revenue administration initiatives by KRA include: The Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS), Cargo Scanner Management Solution, as well as the Excisable Goods Management System (EGMS), among others.
President Kenyatta also presided over the annual Tax Payers’ Day, in recognition of compliant taxpayers who pay their taxes willingly and diligently. The President stressed the importance of paying more attention to tax payers and tax collectors, stating that the Nation’s development and aspirations lie in their hands and that there cannot be a state without people, nor development without taxes.