Magufuli fires top official at Revenue Authority, dissolves board—Snoops cite recent fall in taxes

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Tanzania President John Magufuli sacked the Chairman of Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and dissolved the board for reasons yet to be officially communicated.

This is the second time President Magufuli, fondly nicknamed “bulldozer” for his anti-graft sentiment is shaking the tax man, just a year in office.

In a State House statement, the bulldozer sacked TRA Board chairman Bernard Mchomvu and appointed Charles Kichere, a former Finance and chief accountant of Tanzania Roads Agency as TRA deputy commissioner general. The Board chair position is still vacant.

On November 5, 2015, barely a month in office, Magufuli fired TRA Commissioner General Rished Bade and his deputy, Lusekelo Mwaseba, on allegations that importers evaded about TSh80 billion in tax on 349 containers that were irregularly cleared at Dar es Salaam Port.

 He has also executed major reshuffles at the body including countrywide transfer of tax collection officers as a way of combating graft.
News reports had indicated a rise in revenue collection has risen from a monthly average of Sh900 billion to well over Sh1.3 trillion.
However, The Citizen newspaper reported that during a parliamentary debate of the 2017/18 Budget Framework and National Development Plan, MPs from both the ruling CCM and opposition faulted TRA for failing to widen the tax base, adding and said the recent increase in tax revenue could be attributed to tax that was due but which was not collected.
“All these big numbers that we are currently seeing are arrears…they will soon be exhausted. If no interventions are made, TRA’s monthly collection will revert to the Sh900 billion mark where it was when President Jakaya Kikwete left office last year,” The citizen quoted a Member of parliament Ahmed Salum from the ruling CCM.
True to Salum’s word, total revenue collection in September was nearly eight per cent off the mark, according to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).
“In September 2016, domestic revenue amounted to Sh1,406.5 billion, which was 84 per cent of the target for the month. Revenue collected by the central government was Sh1,365.4 billion, or 84.3 per cent of the target for the month. Tax revenue amounted to Sh1,284.2 billion, below the target by 7.9 per cent,” BoT says in its October 2016 report.
The country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa confirmed he was aware of the allegations, and added that the government was working on them. Snoops speculate could be the reason for Mchomvu sacking.

Before the September fall, according to BoT data, tax revenue for both August and July beat projections by about one per cent.

Magufuli has worn himself a regional household name for his stance against graft, abuse of office and reckless government expenditure.