National, News

REVENUES: MPs push for single collection institution

By Philip Buda Ladu


South Sudan National Parliament pushes for South Sudan Revenue Authority (SSRA) to be granted sole responsibility to collect taxes on behalf of all government units.

On Wednesday, lawmakers deliberated on a report from the standing committee of finance and economic planning that sent a delegation for a benchmarking study tour to Kenya and Rwanda parliaments in April.

The delegation was to acquaint themselves with the best governance practices in the region, explore how their parliaments improve the preparation of national budget, and oversee public financial management (PFM) and the associated implementation processes.

The benchmarking study tour further aims to seek how other countries’ institutions are working in order to take from their best experiences to improve the governance performance as a parliament.

During their mission, the delegation established in one of their key findings that Kenya and Rwanda National Revenue Authorities are the ones collecting all tax and non-tax revenue on behalf of sub-national governments and remitting the agreed share to them.

Thus, in its report to the August House, the Committee strongly recommends that the SSRA be the only one collecting all tax and non-tax revenues on behalf of sub-national (states, administrative areas, counties, and city councils) local governments and remitting the agreed share to them.

MP Tokat Koor Wieu, representing Upper Nile State at the TNLA, in his submission commended the committee’s report as very important for the country.

He observed that part of their problem in South Sudan is a lack of proper tax collection.

“If we give the South Sudan Revenue Authority a chance to collect tax in this country, we may end up with more money,” Tokat stated, citing the collection of tax in the hotels, apartments, and other related businesses controlled by foreigners in the country.

“Therefore, I would like us to be more serious on this matter and engage the revenue authority to do their job properly. In that case, if they do it, we will get more money, and even the arrears will be paid,” he urged the House.

Another MP identified only by a single name, Hon. Palek, further criticized the collection of revenues by the revenue-generating institutions and also by local governments instead of leaving the mandate to the South Sudan Revenue Authority.

“We should give the revenue authority its role to make the collection on behalf of the state because the shares are known,” he underscored.

Palek explained that after collection, shares that will go to the state and administrative area local governments and to the central government are known and will be remitted promptly.

“So it is not right for the states to retain their collections and not to allow the revenue authority to do the collections,” he argued.

The legislator also accused some units within the central government of also refusing to allow the revenue authority to do the collections.

“They (institutions) do the collections themselves, and they retain and spend their collections,” he stated. “This kind of practice is a loophole; now we are in crisis.”

Palek emphasized that as the country is grappling with crisis, they must tap all the revenues and see that there is no unit that would hamper this effort.

“We must stand very seriously against such units because we are obstructing the revenues from being mobilized, yet we are also complaining that we don’t have enough money and we are playing here with the revenues,” he echoed.

An MP, Mrs. Viola Simon, representing Western Equatoria State, added her voice to the recommendation that called for streamlined revenue collection only by the revenue authority.

“As much as it will contradict or overlap with the roles of the local government, I wanted to say that let us prioritize digitalization in tax collections; otherwise, we will not meet our target,” Viola stated.

“We will continue to collect, and when we do not digitalize, we will not meet the target that will help us in our revenue generation or budget envelope,” she added.

In 2022, the Juba City Council (JCC) Deputy Mayor for Social Service, Thiik Thiik Mayardit, blamed the unclear revenue collection policy for the numerous and unnecessary taxations harming traders and the common man across the country.

Thiik stated that the JCC even doesn’t know what belongs to them and what belongs to the revenue authority, adding that they are crumbling on one person.

“You even get the fire brigade inside here, police and national security taking taxes. You can get more than 19 people collecting taxes from one trader,” Thiik pitied.

The former National Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Agak Achuil Lual, also earlier pointed out malpractices in tax collection, citing different institutional acts that have caused a mess, hence burdening businesses and consumers.

“There are a lot of people collecting taxes in the market. The more we collect taxes, the more the traders will raise prices. It all adds to the goods, and we pay it indirectly,” he cited.

Agak stressed the need for the harmonization of taxes to reduce inflation in the market. “The issue of taxes is a very big problem.”

Jemma Nunu Kumba, the speaker of the TNLA, clarified to the MPs during her ruling on the adoption of the benchmarking study tour report that some of the recommendations discussed are constitutional, and adopting them doesn’t mean that they will immediately be implemented.

“Some of them (recommendations) require that the constitution be amended, so for us to implement them, it will require the initiation of an amendment to the constitution,” Nunu noted.



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