STRATEGY

KRA leveraging on technology to seal tax cheats, hit target

EGMS among key systems as the taxman continues to record high collections.

In Summary

•The taxman is also keen to continue building up compliance enforcement efforts by driving the implementation of the new tax measures.

•KRA is also focusing on trade facilitation and enhanced compliance, according to Commissioner General Githii Mburu.

KRA headquarters.
KRA headquarters.
Image: FILE

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has vowed to continue escalating its fight against tax evasion and leverage on technology to support tax collection.

The taxman is also keen to continue building up compliance enforcement efforts by driving the implementation of the new tax measures.

These include digital service tax, minimum alternative tax, and voluntary disclosure programme.

KRA is also focusing on trade facilitation and enhanced compliance, according to Commissioner General Githii Mburu.

This is through the implementation of post clearance audits, review of the end use of exempt products, comprehensive audit of exemptions, profiling and targeting, enhanced scanning and conducting intelligence -led verification of import cargo.

This, Mburu says will continue to play a critical role in maintain revenue performance.

“These among other measures will support enhancement of revenue collection and ensure economic sustainability in the country,” the Commissioner General has affirmed.

The taxman targets to hit new levels after surpassing his collection target for the second month in a row, in December and January, despite a challenging economic environment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, the taxman recorded an improved performance rate of 102.6 per cent to surpass its January revenue collection target by Sh3.53 billion.

Total collections closed at Sh142 billion against a target of Sh138 billion, a 6.7 per cent growth over the same period last year.

“The positive performance is widely accredited to the resurgence of the economy,” Mburu notes.

Among key technology and systems supporting KRA’s war against fakes, illicit trade and streamlining revenue collection, is the Excisable Goods Management System (EGMS).

The system being implemented by Swiss Company–SICPA was successfully rolled out in 2013 (phase I) on alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, with KRA registering significant protection of revenue and increased tax yield as excise tax on these products increased Sh700 million to above Sh5.6 billion, in short term.

All manufacturers of soft beverages and bottled water under the association have complied with having EGMS equipment installed
 Kenya Association of Manufacturers chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga

SICPA which provides security inks for currencies and sensitive documents, including identity documents, passports, transport and lottery tickets, is the provider of the excise stamps that allows KRA to track production lines, hence curbing revenue cheats.

Working closely with SICPA, the taxman has managed to nab fake stamps finding their way into the market, with continuous improvement of the EGMS system by the Swiss company continuing to bear more fruits.

Manufacturers have reported full compliance with the second phase of EGMS.

“All manufacturers of soft beverages and bottled water under the association have complied with having EGMS equipment installed,” Kenya Association of Manufacturers chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga told the Star.

The taxman has put in place measures to ease cargo clearance, including the recently launched Kenya Railways Corporation Transit Shed in Nairobi, for clearing consolidated cargo.

KRA forecasts the transit shed will serve about 7,500 small traders in Nairobi and its environs, yielding about Sh100 million in taxes every month.

Through its intelligence unit and support from other state agencies, including the police, the taxman has successfully closed in on rogue industries and traders, in a spirited war aimed at curbing illicit trade in the country.

A recent market survey by the authority established that over 40 per cent of products in the market are illicit, with the taxman vowing to crack the whip.

A study conducted by the Anti-Counterfeit Authority(ACA) conducted between October 2019 and February 2020 indicates that illicit trade denied Kenya Sh103 billion in revenue in 2018. This was up from KSh101.23 billion in 2017.

Most revenues were lost in the food, beverage, and non-alcoholic drinks sector which accounted for 23.19 per cent of the total illicit trade, followed by textile and apparel at 20.09per cent.

KRA is keen to seal these leaks as it remains upbeat on hitting its target of Sh1.63 trillion (ordinary revenues) for the financial year 2020/21, ending June.

In December, the taxman collected Sh166 billion against a target of Sh164 billion, representing 3.5 per cent growth over the same period previous year.

In January, the customs and border control department collected Sh54.919 billion reflecting a growth of 9.7 per cent ,and registered a revenue surplus of Sh6.053 billion.

Domestic taxes also registered improved performance at 97.1 per cent , the best progress since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the month excise domestic taxes recorded a growth of 42.8 per cent after collecting a surplus of Sh3.422 billion, while withholding tax surpassed the target by Sh396 million.