11th November 2020, The East African Revenue Authorities’ Commissioners General meet twice a year with the objective of sharing experiences and addressing common challenges facing tax administrations in the Region. The 48th East African Revenue Authorities Commissioners General meeting was held virtually due to the new working arrangements under the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was hosted by the Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General.
The meeting was attended by Commissioners General and senior officers from Office Burundais des Recettes (OBR), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA) and Zanzibar Revenue Board. Others in attendance were the Representatives from the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF). The theme of the meeting was, Rethink, Restart and Reinvent: Our road to Recovery.
It is worth noting that all Revenue Authorities reported declining revenue performance during the period of March to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the greatest decline being registered in May 2020. In the quarter of July to September 2020, the revenue growth in the region ranged from -44.9% to 2.1%. This was unprecedented bearing in mind that the revenues have on average been growing at double digits.
The meeting discussed a number of emerging issues that continue to affect the tax administrations and agreed on the following:
- Continued use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism to unlock revenue.
- Use of technology and data analytics to enhance revenue collection, compliance and identification of potential revenue as well as enhancing support to taxpayers.
- Respective Revenue Authorities to provide bilateral or East African Community level support to South Sudan National Revenue Authority.
- Develop a joint strategy for the East African Revenue Authorities to address the taxation of the digital economy by addressing issues to do with the legal framework in terms of definitions, identification of players and the legal mechanisms. Other administrative issues to be addressed include leveraging on technology and building technical skills.
- Continue engaging with the EAC Secretariat on the need to establish a Committee on Tax Affairs at the EAC where tax administration matters of DTD, ICT and other administrative issues not related to Customs can be deliberated.
- Fast track the integration of domestic taxes systems in the region. A team consisting of Commissioners of Domestic Taxes and Directors of ICT to hasten the work on this. The team is directed to work closely and leverage on the expertise and work done by ATAF on the same.
- Commissioners General directed that in order to improve the integrity of staff in the Revenue Authorities, lifestyle audits should be conducted across the region.
- The East African Community Secretariat to come up with an agreed framework on how to address base erosion and profit shifting and illicit financial flows within the East African Community. This will be addressed through legislation covering the various business models and administrative measures.
- Commissioners of Customs to establish the information gaps and share with the EAC centralised platform and deliberate on how to effectively share information among the Revenue Authorities within the East African Community.
- Support the East African Community Secretariat on the operationalisation and sustainability of the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System in terms of funding options, institutional framework and interconnectivity.