URA Commissioner General, John Rujoki Musinguzi
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected economies worldwide.
The lockdowns to contain the spread of the deadly disease has seen companies lose revenue and millions of workers lose jobs.
Consequently, many revenue authorities around the world have failed to hit their monthly revenue collection targets.
However, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) headed by John Rujoki Musinguzi as Commissioner General has beaten all odds to register surpluses in the first two months of 2020/21 Financial Year.
It is important to note that President Yoweri Museveni appointed Musinguzi as the new Commissioner General of URA, with immediate effect on March 29, 2020. He officially took over office from Doris Akol on April 2, 2020.
While there were fears that Musinguzi would start his tenure on a bad note given the COVID-19 pandemic times, the new URA boss has hit the ground running.
According to the 2020/21 national budget, URA was tasked to collect revenue amounting to Shs21.81 trillion, comprising of tax revenue amounting to Shs20.219 trillion and non-tax revenue of Shs1.591 trillion.
The Authority has started promisingly; gross revenue collection for the month of July 2020 totaled to UGX 1,232,459,820,462 against a target of UGX 956,765,996,314 registering a gross surplus of UGX 275,693,824,148.
According to figures obtained from URA, Net revenue collection for the month of July 2020 totaled to UGX 1,201,515,213,922 against a target of UGX 923,359,628,254, hence a net surplus of UGX 278,155,585,668.
The cumulative net surplus as at 31st July 2020 was UGX 278,155,585,668.
Figures indicate that Gross collections from Domestic Taxes amounted to UGX 732,695,723,301 against a target of UGX 574,085,860,341 registering a surplus of UGX 158,609,862,960.
“Direct Domestic Taxes (PAYE, Corporation Tax, Individual income tax, withholding tax and Rental income tax) performed at 134.85% % with surplus of UGX 90,896,386,480, Indirect domestic taxes performed at 135.71% registering a surplus of UGX 85,648,445,453, Non Tax Revenue Collections performed at 111.88%, a surplus of 4,728,416,376, whereas Appropriation in Aid performed at 32.64% registering a deficit of UGX 22,663,385,349,” Ian Rumanyika, the Manager Public & Corporate Affairs at URA told Business Focus.
Rumanyika reveals that International trade taxes performed at 130.60% with gross collections of UGX 499,764,097,161 against a target of UGX 382,680,135,974.
For the month of August, URA figures show that Gross revenue collection for totaled to UGX 1,415,180,237,848 against a target of UGX 1,059,229,633,555 registering a gross surplus of UGX 355,950,604,293.
Net revenue collection for the month of August 2020 totaled to UGX 1,379,488,791,307 against a target of UGX 1,025,823,265,495 hence a net surplus of UGX 353,665,525,812.
The cumulative net surplus as at 31st August 2020 was UGX 632,134,197,145, URA figures indicate.
According to Rumanyika, Gross collections from Domestic Taxes amounted to UGX 802,038,422,691 against a target of UGX 637,502,690,313 registering a surplus of UGX 164,535,732,378, while Direct Domestic Taxes (PAYE, Corporation Tax, Individual income tax, withholding tax and Rental income tax) performed at 135.61% with surplus of UGX 97,392,905,168.
Indirect domestic taxes performed at 138.75%, registering a surplus of UGX 101,775,170,916.
URA reveals that Non Tax Revenue Collections performed at 115.91%, a surplus of 6,934,282,886 whereas Appropriation in Aid performed at 28.07% registering a deficit of UGX 41,566,626,593.
International trade taxes performed at 145.39% with gross collections of UGX 613,141,815,157 against a target of UGX 421,726,943,242.
The new Commissioner General has emphasized on professionalizing the tax body and promoting integrity which caused a lot of revenue leakage in the past.
URA has lately come up with innovations aimed at maximizing tax revenue collections. For example, effective July1, 2020, URA rolled out the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS) to provide electronic tax solutions.
The tax body’s Digital Tax Stamps have increased revenue collections.
It is worth noting that in recognition of the current situation regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the businesses, URA unveiled 10 business continuity measures to help taxpayers not only remain in business, but also enable them pay their fair share of taxes without much difficulty.
Speaking on the 2nd day of the post budget reading conference held in June, Musinguzi said URA had identified areas of reforms for better revenue collection.
“These are unprecedented times; the Corona pandemic has rapidly changed the way we operate, and we must adapt accordingly. We can no longer rely only on international trade and foreign assistance; we need to look within us as a country for sustenance,” Musinguzi said.
He added: “We are going to be more inward looking. We’re going to focus on domestic tax collection than pay all attention to international/foreign sources.”
He added that URA is going to rely more on data and improve the processes for managing data.
“We are going to clean it to be accurate and use scientific processes to point out areas of focus. We will not look on and be part of the causes of young businesses in our country to collapse because of over taxation,” he revealed to the applause of the attentive audience.
“We would be defeating our own purpose of existence if we cause small businesses to collapse because we need them to grow bigger with incomes which we can tax later,” he added.
High on the agenda of domestic revenue collection is tax education to improve tax compliance, Musinguzi revealed.
“We are prepared to undertake revenue collection with a lot of diligence but with sensitivity raised on this forum,” he said.
Musinguzi further revealed that this is not going to be business as usual.
“We are going to overhaul most of our processes so that going forward, we are prepared to deal with the new challenges,” he said.
He also noted that despite the recent shake-up in URA’s top management, he found a competent team of dedicated Ugandans.
“It’s not that the institution is corrupt. I found a very competent team. It’s just a few apples that spoil the reputation of many,” Musinguzi said, adding: “There are a number of systematic measures URA is introducing to curb corruption within the Authority. Some of them include lifestyle audit where staff will have to account for what they earn and how they live.”
He said Government recently launched the Domestic Revenue Mobilization strategy which is expected to bring Uganda closer to attaining its target of 16% tax to GDP ratio.
“Our new corporate plan implementation hinges on key policy and planning framework including; the Uganda Vision 2040, The National Development Plan III, The Domestic Resource Mobilization Strategy (DRMS) to mention but a few,” he said, adding that they will enhance strategic partnerships.