Politics and policy
KRA expands number of tax collectors to meet targets
Posted Sunday, June 24 2012 at 17:38
The Kenya Revenue Authority is trimming its administrative and auxiliary workforce to create space for additional tax collectors who are being hired in readiness for a looming battle with tax cheats in the new financial year.
The authority, which must collect Sh870 billion in the next 12 months, is also reorganising its staffing to bring the ratio of tax collectors to support staff closer to the global best practice of 70 to 30 from the current mix of 60 to 40.
“We are deploying more human resources to the task of revenue collection,” said Kennedy Onyonyi, the KRA deputy commissioner for communication.
“A significant number of non-revenue officers have been taken through conversion courses to become revenue officers.”
KRA has 4,500 employees who fall in three broad categories of tax experts, other professionals and support staff.
Out of every 10 workers, six are tax experts, three other professionals and one support staff.
This is a significant improvement from 2000 when only 45 per cent of staff was engaged in tax collection and more than half were working in supportive roles. Tax and advisory firm PKF
Eastern Africa stoked the staffing debate during its Budget briefing with a claim that a disproportionately large segment of the KRA establishment is not directly involved in tax collection.
Tax experts see the bloated number of non-revenue collectors as burdensome to the authority even as it seeks more funding from the Treasury.
“KRA should be a lean, mean and ruthlessly efficient tax collection apparatus and not the bloated outfit that it is,” said Martin Kisuu, PKF’s regional tax partner. He said excess staff in administrative functions should be replaced by skilled people who can make a direct impact on tax collection if the expanding government expenditure needs are to be adequately financed.
Mr Onyonyi said 30 per cent of the KRA establishment are professionals offering key support services such as ICT, marketing and investigations even as he emphasised that there would be no job losses.
Mr Kisuu said that the proposed reforms in tax collection that have recently moved to rope in landlords and property dealers in the income tax net will bear little fruit unless KRA commits to efficiency.
On March 26, KRA commissioner-general John Njiraini sent a memo to staff alerting them of the reorganisation plan that has seen the number of commissioners drop to 10 from 17.
The move left support services staff in two divisions – each headed by a commissioner rather than scattered in numerous departments.
Mr Kisuu said Kenya’s tax regime had become unnecessarily burdensome to ordinary citizens with income and consumption taxes making the largest proportion of the revenue KRA collects.
That has left billions of taxable shillings in the pockets of the rich whose wealth in the form capital gains on stocks and real estate as well as mergers and acquisitions is not taxed.