President William Ruto has made a stern warning to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) staff, who he accuses of facilitating highly connected individuals and businesses to evade tax.
The President, during a visit to KRA offices to file his tax returns, accused unnamed staff of “corruption, collusion and unprofessionalism” that are heavily costing the country.
He said the staff had gotten into bed with “networked and connected” businesses to facilitate them dodge taxes, while the burden of tax payment was left to the large proportion of citizens who earn meagre incomes, vowing to take personal responsibility on the issue.
“I am right at the forefront of mobilising Kenyans to pay tax. But the question many Kenyans ask me is ‘how sure are we that we will all pay’ because we must all be equal, people who have networks and connections will escape paying, then the small people with no connections end up paying. There are people in KRA who facilitate others not to pay,” he said.
“Collusion, wanton bribe-taking and general corruption continue to pervade operations of KRA, facilitating tax evasion, massive leakages of potential revenue and inability to meet revenue targets,” President Ruto said.
The President, who said he recently met KRA management and plans to meet them again in the coming days, said he was determined to address concerns by Kenyans on the safety of taxes the government collects and the need to ensure that everyone pays their due share.
Use of the resources
“I will take personal responsibility for the safety and the proper use of the resources of the people of the Republic of Kenya. It is the only way they can continue to legitimately pay their taxes. You know what I have said is true. It must stop, somehow it must stop. We have to do what we have to do,” Dr Ruto said.
He insisted that there must be a culture change at the revenue collection authority, to end the prevailing situation that has entrenched favouritism.
He wants KRA to deploy technological equipment to facilitate revenue collection and mobilisation, without necessarily wasting public money.
“This means KRA must stop the tiresome drama of pretending to be fighting with stakeholders over new technology and avoid irritating Kenyans with proposals to spend billions of shillings on irrelevant projects. Kenyans expect no less, deserve no less and are entitled to no less,” he said.
“My office shall be responsible for ensuring effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. Everybody, irrespective of status, will pay tax,” the President added.
KRA has during the current financial year been struggling with achieving revenue targets, where by the start of this month it was rushing to collect more than Sh535 billion, in the two months ending June.
In March, some government agencies had to delay paying salaries to civil servants owing to low revenues and high debt servicing costs, as the government insists that it will not borrow to settle recurrent expenditures.