By Julius Businge
On Oct.27, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka announced the appointment of Doris Akol as new Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority. The Independent’s Julius Businge alongside other journalists attended a mini-press briefing with Akol at the Authority’s headquarters in Kampala.
Who is Doris Akol and how did you feel when you were appointed to that position?
Doris is 44 years old and is a professional trained lawyer. I have been serving as the Commissioner for Legal and Board Affairs for the last three years. I have worked in URA for the last 19 years. In addition I have served on the management team for the last nine years. I have just graduated from URA’s in-house leadership programme fired up for excellent leadership. From this I expect to draw most of my leadership skills to this new task. I studied at Makerere Law School finishing in 1993. I have won several local and international legal awards. In 2008 I was the winner of the institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) Ralph Bell Prize. I am the recipient of the Uganda Law Society’s Best Female In-house Lawyer of the year 2014. I am also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators UK and a member of the Uganda Law Society and East African Law Society.
I also worked as a legal consultant at PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Kampala office. I also have two Masters of Law from Makerere University and from a University in Canada. I also have a Post Graduate Diploma in Finance Management among other qualifications. I am privileged to take over from someone who has done a good job. She has set a bar to a level where we are challenged and indeed we will raise the bar even higher. Allen has set a good foundation because of her excellent leadership over the 10 year period. We have seen URA rise from glory to glory. My role now is to build on that platform, make it even more solid and build on it so that our role in URA which is a national fundraising effort will be able to deliver in line with our mandate to the level where this country is able to fully fund its recurrent and development budget.
How are you going to achieve that?
We are going to perfect our client service platforms. URA is a client-centric organisation and a lot of emphasis will be put on making our services more reachable to people to enable everyone that is willing and able to pay their taxes to do so. So a lot of focus is going to be placed on information, tax education, and also creating a perfect client platform to enable compliance for those who are willing to comply. On the other hand we shall also strengthen our emphasis on enforcement of compliance because we know there is a lot of uncollected revenue there that must come in. This we will do even without having to introduce too many tax handles. Some of this revenue we will collect by helping some people to comply. We would like to ensure that all our clients are provided with solutions that are appropriate to their segment. Large tax payers will have their client service platform. We will also have small and micro taxpayers. We will also look at the segment that is not served so we bring it onboard with ease and without pain.
What major new areas are you going to focus on?
I would think at this point rather than introduce new areas; we need to reinforce the foundation that has already been built. We have significant mileage to cover on reinforcing what we have in order for the platforms and the programmes that we have started to come to completion. In trying to expand the tax base we are going to put a lot of emphasis on formalising the informal sector.
What three major things did you learn from Allen Kagina?
I have learnt humility, decisiveness, and I have learnt how to be a good leader.
Many of us thought a man would be appointed to that position this time around. But Madam Akol you have been chosen. What does this mean to the women out there?
This is a pertinent question indeed. For the women out there I would like them to know that it is very fulfilling to work as a woman and as a professional. I would like to tell them that they can live their lives to their fullest potential. There is no barrier that can stop a woman from achieving what they want. The barriers that are there are only in our minds. Once we realise that we can do very well, the sky is not even the limit. Allen Kagina and myself have shown that if you are focused, put your heart to it and if you challenge yourself, you can achieve a lot. I would also like to encourage even the young girls to have confidence in whatever they do. To all of you, who have girls; please give them the confidence, the opportunity so they can excel in different areas of their interest.