Today, President Museveni has announced the appointment of John Musinguzi Rujoki as the new Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General replacing Doris Akol that had been in the position since October 27, 2014.
As her reign as URA boss comes to an end, Doris Akol has without a doubt performed to the best of her ability, setting targets for the tax collecting body and meeting them almost every financial year.
Just a little information about the outgoing Commissioner General, she joined URA in 1995 and rose through the ranks, serving as Commissioner, Legal Affairs and Board Matters from 2012 until she was appointed Commissioner General in 2014.
As Commissioner General, Akol oversaw the multibillion construction project of the URA Towers, the 22-storey state-of-the UR- building in Nakawa that houses their headquarters. The tower was built on a Shs139 billion budget that was fully funded by the government of Uganda.
Designed with Intelligent Building Management System (BMS) to be a green structure to conserve the environment, the skyscraper rises to 22 storeys above the ground with underground parking capacity of 360 cars, and 710 on surface parking. Moving into this building has saved URA billions in rent annually.
Moving on to their principle role that is revenue collection, URA has managed to grow revenue collection annually, registering a growth of 17.68% in the 2018/19 Financial Year alone.
This growth, as the 2018/19 Revenue Performance Report says, came mostly from direct taxes.
“Domestic taxes net collections during the FY 2018/19 were Shs9,749.29 billion, registering a performance of 102.80% and Shs265.59 billion above the target. A growth rate of 17.68% was realized compared to FY 2017/18.
“The major tax heads that recorded gross surpluses during the year were majorly direct taxes that include; corporation tax; that registered a surplus of Shs331.37 billion mainly attributed to the transport, storage and communication sub-sector as well as the financial intermediaries and PAYE; that registered a surplus of Shs148.60 billion mainly attributed to the public sector that performed at 127.96% of target,” the report partly reads.
URA image, fighting corruption
Some years ago, URA was seen as a den of corrupt officials, but that narrative has slowly died out under Akol’s leadership, and the image of the body has improved greatly, with corrupt officials fished out by top management and punished by the law.
Last month, URA introduced a lifestyle audit, a mechanism aimed at investigating employees that have accumulated a lot of illegal wealth. With this, URA began to investigate their staff on how they have acquired some of their assets like buildings, land, businesses and wealth vis-a-vis their salary, to make sure it was not accrued through corruption.
Last year in November under Akol’s leadership, URA introduced the Digital Tax Stamps as a solution to address the challenges of illicit trade, counterfeit products and unfair competition on the market, tax evasion and smuggling of goods cross the borders.
Implementation of the Digital Tracking Solution and Digital Tax Stamps started in February this year. URA projects this solution will help them collect an extra Shs48 billion.
URA also partnered with World Customs Organization to launch a Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS) that helps to track air travellers and their goods before they land in the country.
On a personal side, Akol is a full Nalongo, having given birth to a set of twins on September 26, 2018, but she has managed to balance motherhood with leading the body that is tasked with collecting the country’s every earnings.
As Doris Akol leaves office today, we wish her the very best in the future, but we shall never forget OTT.