National, News

Digital gap hinders revenue collection-Mande

By William Madouk


Commissioner General for the National Revenue Authority, Africano Mande lamented that revenue setbacks and shortfalls are due to the absence of a digital tax collection system in the country.

Mr. Mande appeared before lawmakers yesterday to answer questions on the authority’s step toward the adoption of technology for an e-tax collection system.

He said in the digital era, it is a nightmare for any tax collector to take tariffs from abstract products without a digitalized system established.

“It’s actually a nightmare to any tax collector; for example, we are trying to collect taxes from products that are abstract, one of them is the Internet, another is the telecom services. We have no visibility,” said Mande.

He added that fiber optics has been procured including instruments such as microwaves to generate internet for the country, but they have not been taxed.

“We also have the satellite; they call them the Vsat. Now, how do we collect taxes from such kind of institution if we do not digitalize ourselves?” he wondered.

“We say we need to have a robust division or a commission that will be able to work so that we are able to have clear visibility of that. Today, we have got many companies operating as money transfer companies,” he added.

The NRA boss cited that recently anti-money laundering institutions put them in a tight spot for not fulfilling requirements, not even one percent of the proposed recommendations.

“There’s a likelihood that we can be pushed to a blacklist, which is likely to affect even the corresponding banks. And all of this is happening because we do not have visibility as a government and as the NRA,” Mande grieved.

“We say some of these abstract products that are being imported in the country, we need to put systems in place. We need to put processes and instruments and gadgets so that we are able to see the taxes,” he continued.

For instance, Mr. Mande said MTN, one of the leading telecommunication companies used to pay 280 million pounds every month.

“We were so happy with 280 million, we celebrated!” however he added, “The first instrument we deployed is what they call the IXP, which is the Internet Exchange Point because we do not have a division for ICT, … that same month, revenue went up, MTN started paying us 1.4 billion.”

He said the National Communication Authority is working to install fiber optics that would give fast internet and low tariffs as well as install DAC cable to prevent eavesdropping during the conversation.

Mr. Mande disclosed that they are now training cybersecurity experts in order to safeguard the system from cybercriminals who might squander money.

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