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APPOINTMENT

Tough hurdles ahead for KRA's new boss James Mburu

In Summary

• The new commissioner is also expected to deal with perennial miss of tax targets. Already, the agency has projected to miss this year’s target by Sh110 billion.

• The immediate former Commissioner for Intelligence and Strategic Operations is said to have colluded with external actors to carry out surveillance on his colleagues, leading to mass arrests.

James Githii Mburu has been appointed as the new KRA Commissioner General.
James Githii Mburu has been appointed as the new KRA Commissioner General.
Image: COURTESY

James Githii Mburu appointed yesterday as the new Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General has tough task to bring harmony at the agency where several junior officials were recently arrested for aiding tax evasion.

The immediate former Commissioner for Intelligence and Strategic Operations is said to have colluded with external actors to carry out surveillance on his colleagues, leading to mass arrests.

In a gazette notice dated June 6, Treasury CS Henry Rotich confirmed the appointment of Githii for a three-year period effective July 1, 2019, a move that is likely to fuel resentments especially from juniors who feel betrayed in the recent swoop.

 

Last week, there were reports of a go-slow by some staff in key tax departments at the agency. However, the top management maintained brave face, insisting that all is well.

It was also forced to suspended four critical functions of its tax system ostensibly to allows taxpayers update their tax registration details, file tax returns, register all tax payments and make status inquiries with real-time monitoring of their accounts.

The new commissioner is also expected to deal with perennial miss of tax targets. Already, the agency has projected to miss this year’s target by Sh110 billion.

His appointment is also contested in court. Although activist Okiya Omtatah’s application to block Mburu’s name after being shortlisted alongside other four candidates failed last week, it directed him to serve all parties for inter parties hearing on June 13.

Omtatah argues that Mburu is a relative of the outgoing boss John Njiraini.

In his current role as KRA’s chief of intelligence, Mburu has developed a formidable intelligence gathering infrastructure that has brought to grief the plans of many a tax evader.

During his tenure which started with his appointment in March 2017, he has overseen complex and highly sensitive tax investigations touching on powerfully connected companies and individuals.

 

At 47, James Mburu, is a man loved and feared in equal measure by both friends and foes.

Insiders familiar with the recent recruitment say concerted efforts were mounted both internally and externally seeking to block his appointment as KRA boss with the bulk of them driven by fears about his stringent position regarding tax evasion and corruption amongst KRA staff.

In 2018, intelligence helped to bust a multi-billion shilling tax evasion scheme by Chinese building materials retailer Housemart, a matter which is still pending before the courts.

Prominent personalities who ended up on the KRA intelligence boss’s radar include former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and his advocate Professor Tom Ojienda both of whom are fighting multi-million tax evasion cases.

Among his recent assignments includes the high profile tax evasion investigation against Humphrey Kariuki’s Thika based Africa Spirits factor

Prior to joining KRA, Mburu worked as technical standards officer at the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), where he met his current boss and outgoing KRA Commissioner General, John Njiraini.