Yesterday, Doris Akol, the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) commenced her second term in office ever since she was appointed four years ago to preside over this tax body.
Akol was appointed the Commissioner General of URA by Finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuka in 2014 replacing Allen Kagina. Akol was until her appointment serving as the commissioner for legal and board affairs at URA.
As she transitions into her second term in office, Akol boasts of consistently growing revenue collection with total gross revenue collection exceeding Shs 48.7 trillion which is an average of over Shs 12 trillion per annum (Shs 1 trillion per month).
In the last four financial years, URA has contributed over Shs 48 trillion to finance the National Development Programs.
Revenue base has expanded from Shs 9.7 trillion in the 2014/15 financial year to Shs 14.5 trillion in the 2017/18 financial year, indicating an absolute growth of Shs 4.8 trillion.
In the same period, tax to GDP rose from 12.33% to 14.33% by the end of FY 2017/18.
By the beginning of the 2014/15 financial year, the total number of registered taxpayers was 632,379 but this has since increased to 688,312. This represents a growth in the register by about 30%.
During the period, URA also rolled out a new tax education strategy to engage taxpayers through transparent and open forums in hope that their capacity to honor their tax obligations. These forums included countrywide budget breakfast meetings.
However, it is perhaps the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) that is among the notable developments under Akol’s tenure. RECTS, a web-based integrated system for monitoring transit cargo under customs control was launched in February 2017 to eliminate challenges such as lack of holistic end to end transit monitoring mechanism that were leading to cases of dumping, delayed bond cancellation and refund processing.
Its implementation resulted into e-monitoring of up to 20% of the cargo, reduced transit time by about 50% from 6 to 3 days for regional, and 3 to 1.5 days for national transactions, improved truck turnaround time from 4 to 8 trips a month and suppressed transit diversion and improved trade facilitation.
URA also launched the Centralized Document Processing Centre (DPC) to ease customs clearance procedures. This facility has harmonized documentary check function and customs operational standard, reduced online clearance time, improved service delivery through the client help tool increased staff productivity without external interference with two operational shifts and improved staff work environment.
The Implementation of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) has enabled lodgment of declarations before cargo arrives at Mombasa. It has also resulted into the use of a single declaration for bulk cargo that would otherwise require multiple declarations. This resulted into reduced clearance time of cargo from Mombasa, from 18-22 days in the financial year 2012/13 to 4-6 days in 2017/18.