National, News

National Revenue Authority needs autonomy-MPs

By Bida Elly David


Lawmakers at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) have decried interference in the National Revenue Authority (NRA) by the Finance Ministry.

During deliberation on the National Revenue Authority (NRA) Act 2016 (Amendment Bill) 2023, lawmakers noted interferences in revenue collection.

Key discrepancy in the revenue-collecting institution is limitation to exercise its mandate, a vice which the lawmakers are seeking to stop.

George Bureng, MP representing Juba County constituency, said the ministry of finance has fully taken on all the tasks of the NRA.

“The issues of collecting revenues in this country have great problems. There is a need for the commission to be independent to collect all the revenues in this country without any interference,” Bureng said.

He cited the finance ministry’s role in the management of the national budget allocated by the parliament and, controversially, its role in supervising the NRA.

Henry Omai, a lawmaker from Upper Nile State, questioned the commission’s powers in managing only non-oil revenues.

He said the destination of the oil revenues is not yet realized as the country battles serious economic turmoil.

“At the moment, we are talking of no oil revenues; who is in charge of the oil revenues? We don’t know how oil revenues are being managed,” he queried.

The MP said malpractices will not be mitigated if the NRA is not granted complete independence by the bill to collect both oil and non-oil revenues.

“The commission should be given full powers for both the non-oil and the oil revenues so that there is transparency and accountability,” Henry suggested.

Another lawmaker, Samson Amule, representing Lainya County under the SPLM-IO ticket, argued that South Sudan loses a lot of revenues due to poor e-taxation policies.

Samson said South Sudan is very weak in adopting technological platforms to ease data entry of revenues generated from taxes.

He blamed the national communication authority for having sidelined the NRA from accessing the E-tax device for data entry as well as monitoring and evaluation.

“Revenue authority, especially on the component of the e-tax, goes hand in hand with the ministry of information. There is no policy that helps us understand how the national communication authority operates,” he said.

For her part, Grace Abalang, an MP from Eastern Equatoria State on the SPLM ticket, raised concerns over the country’s poor infrastructure in her argument.

“When you go to Juba-Nimule Road, the tarmac is finished and nobody is taking care of it or repairing it, yet people are getting millions and billions of dollars there from the state,” she said.

She furiously stated that no percentage has been allocated to the states where non-oil revenues are collected, citing Nimule and Magwi, to mention but a few.

“I have not seen in the bill anything talking about percentages for the states where these revenues are collected. The states, counties, and communities need to be taken care of in the bill,” Abalang argued.

“We cannot produce billions of pounds and millions of dollars, and our people still live in poverty,” he echoed.

Abalang cited the high rate of pilferages in the NRA due to indefinite decrees that happen often.

“We need these people to perform. At least give two, three, or four years to someone. You are only employed for six months or one year. Definitely, you will only think of stealing money,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Africano Mande, the Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), testified in his remarks that numerous challenges hit the entity due to a lack of proper laws.

“There are a number of legal challenges we have because the specificity of these legal principals is not being stipulated clearly in the NRA Act,” he told lawmakers during the NRA bill deliberations in Monday’s sitting.

He said regional benchmarking has been one of the trainings that helped the NRA adopt policies that fit the national budget.

“Some of the actions that we took were to send members of our board, including senior management of the NRA, to go on benchmarking in the region,” he said.

Mande suggested that working on the correct laws will help South Sudan greatly improve its revenue collection sector.

After a thorough debate, the parliament passed the NRA amendment bill 2023 with recommendations and observations for the 3rd reading stage.

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