Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has called for greater adoption of technology to boost tax collection across the continent.
He said technology can help tax bodies like the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) improve their records, and therefore know who and how much to tax.
“For URA, I encourage you to use technology to help map property so that you have proper records, know which are commercial and which are residential. You can then accurately levy and collect property tax, which people have been evading,” Museveni said as he opened the 4th International Conference on Tax in Africa at Serena Conference Centre under the theme, “Innovation – Digitalization and Harnessing Technology to Improve Tax Systems”.
He added that, “the same technology should be used to monitor what factories are producing in terms of volumes and products, and also check the imports at border points. With over 40 entry points into the country, the 17 scanners are not sufficient. URA must acquire more gadgets.”
He told the thousands of delegates from across the continent that his advice has always been to discourage tax on production in order to help African economies to grow.
“Rather than tax a gonja (plantain) seller at the point of selling his bananas, why not wait when he buys beer from gonja proceeds then tax the beer since drinking alcohol is a voluntary action?” he remarked.
He however warned that “that those charged with collecting taxes must be people of integrity. It is not enough to employ people with degrees, they must be people you can trust, people of impeccable integrity.”
What is ATAF?
URA, on behalf of Uganda, is hosting the 4th International Conference on Tax in Africa (ICTA), which ties in with the 10th anniversary celebration for the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
ATAF was created as a platform that champions interests of African countries in the international tax arena, this came hot on the heels of the 2008 global economic crisis. As a result, Africa has evolved into more effective tax systems, creating increased opportunities for state building and enabling Africa to take control over its own destiny.
The 4th International Conference on Tax in Africa (ICTA) is premised on the theme Innovation – Digitalization and Harnessing Technology to Improve Tax Systems, taking place in Kampala, Uganda from 18th – 22nd November, 2019.
With the current wave of digitalised economies, the theme will cover innovative solutions to the policy challenges that face countries in dealing with the taxation of digitalisation so as to inform the global tax debate over the next decade.
The ATAF 10th Anniversary highlights key milestones that the platform and members have registered. Since its launch in November 2009, as a beacon of hope to strengthen revenue mobilization and administration in the continent, ATAF was recognised by the African Union as the lead organisation on continental tax matters and as a result, they have signed an MoU with the Pan African Parliament to adopt the ATAF double taxation agreement model for all African countries.
ATAF has provided technical assistance and capacity building to member States through various committees such as cross-border taxation, VAT technical committee, Legal Counsel Network and the Exchange of Information Technical Committee.
In addition, ATAF has trained over 15,000 officials in international tax and several tax administration matters such as tax treaties, Transfer Pricing, Tax Audit and Taxing Natural resources.
URA in particular has benefited a lot in the areas of legislation, Executive Masters in Taxation, training and also participated in collaborative research on tax matters under the African Tax Research Network.
Host, URA head Doris Akol, said “For the past decade, members to this forum can attest to the growth and milestones that have steered African revenue performance to where it is today.”
“One of the areas ATAF has set a mark is in helping African countries curb illicit financial flows through her ATAF Double Taxation Agreement.”
Tunde Fowler, ATAF Chairman agreed, stating that, “23 out of the 26 countries covered by the ATO have reported that they have modernised their tax collection. This is a step in the right direction and bears testament to the work that ATAF has done over the past 10 years.”
Logan Wort, the Executive Secretary ATAF told delegates that “it is important for African countries to voice their take on the taxation of the digitalised economy. The new age of digitalised economies offers a reset of the global rules, provided that Africa timeously voices its interests both at a technical and very strongly, at a political level.”
The events in Kampala are a climax of ATAF decade celebrations that have been happening across Africa.
ATAF Leadership will symbolically provide a report to the President of Uganda on the mandate to improve revenue collection on the continent and make a commitment for the next 10 years; Launch a members’ Charter as well as give Awards and recognition for different categories of key players in ATAF’s work since inception.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING URA MEDIA