By Joan Akello
A mother, wife and the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority.
Who are you in two sentences?
I am ambitious. I am a learner.
What one thing has kept you?
Faith. I believe that my life is given to me to live for Christ
What attracts people to you?
I do not think I have a lot to offer except my faith in Christ and hard work.
What do you hate?
I do not like obstacles because they hinder people and progress.
What is the best attitude about work?
It is a privilege to work and if I know I can make a difference through my work, then it is an honour to work. There are a lot of people that do no work not because there are no jobs but because they despise work.
What was your first job?
An accounts clerk during my senior four vacation.
What did you use the money you earned for?
I do not remember. It was so little; I did not save or invest it.
As a young girl what did you want to become when older?
It kept on changing along the way. At a certain point I wanted to become a doctor because I thought doctors look very cool in their white uniforms or coats but now I have great respect for doctors because I do not even want to do what they do.
If you were to much younger what would you study?
If you were a man what would you be?
The same. I do not think I am this because I am a woman. I think God created me to do more than the confines of gender.
What one thing should women out there learn from you?
There is nothing in the market place that God has designed specifically for men or for women. For the transformation of this nation, God is asking for all troops all women and men.
What was the hardest decision you have had to make?
Dismissing people. I make hard decision every now and then with regard to people. To staff, you have to let go of people who are really good, sometimes you have to dismiss somebody who has caused you problems in the market place or in office yet you know they have families depending on them.
What is your best colour?
Right now I’m between colours. There was a time I was into green, but I do not like green any more. I love royal blue; it is a very nice colour. I do not like browns. There was a time I loved red so it is a whole range.
What makes you happy?
A lot of things. When my family is well taken care of, and I have people who are happy around me, I am happy. When I can solve someone’s problem, I am happy.
What gets to your nerves?
Injustice, when I see children suffer because somebody is stealing money, or when somebody is denied justice I do not like it.
Is there anything that keeps you awake, longer than you should be?
Right now it is to ensure that URA is collecting enough revenue to fund the programmes of government. We are not a poor nation, not by any means, but I think getting ourselves organised so that we can mobilise the resources is one of the things we are addressing.
What one gift have you received that is so memorable?
I get so many gifts which is very wonderful. It is not in the value of the gifts, some of the gifts are very small or not very expensive but it is the heart behind it. Recently I was meeting all our staff from all over the country and many of them would go out and buy a gift for me and thought that was really touching for somebody to say the Commissioner General is visiting let us buy her a wall painting or basket . That means a lot to me.
What is your greatest fear?
What is the last thing you would think of before sleeping?
My mind is always in the mode of problem solving. I am always solving problems either at home or at work or in my own personal life and so often I go to sleep thinking; ‘what is the best way to address this?’ and this is the best way to go to sleep because your mind does not actually shutdown. So I need to train myself to calm down before I sleep.
What one thing do you always tell your children?
God is uppermost, that you cannot go wrong if you trust God; you can ask God anytime, anyplace anything and if they come to me for something and it is a challenge, I cannot supply or help, I always tell them – ask God.
What is your philosophy about life?
I believe we have limited time whether it is 70 or 100 years and we are given the time to make impact. My philosophy in life is that use every day to make impact
How do want taxpayers to view taxes?
We all want good things and services such as roads, hospitals, we want to get good salaries and peace in our country, we want our economy to grow, but there are not many people willing to pay for that. They would rather that we borrow and live in debt. The Bible says the borrower is a slave to the lender. At URA I try to bring an understanding that we are not borrowers. We have the capacity to lend and if every man and woman who has gainful employment and is making an income can contribute, this nation can be self-sufficient.