Editorials

KRA staff bodycam plan will boost war on cheats

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Times Tower in Nairobi, the headquarters of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Picture taken on Thursday, October 15, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

The plan by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to introduce body-worn cameras on staff interacting with taxpayers is on point and shows the agency is serious about dealing with corruption in its ranks.

The taxman says the bodycams will be used by staff who work in the domestic tax department and customs and border control in the latest effort by authorities to fight corruption.

The measure is expected to enhance transparency in the interactions among the KRA workers and taxpayers, helping to curb tax evasion.

The integrity of KRA workers has come into focus, with reports of individuals amassing wealth they cannot account for.

Such unexplained wealth usually arises from bribes collected from taxpayers who seek to avoid paying taxes or illegally lower their obligations by working with the KRA employees.

The result is that the conspiring parties end up with unjust riches while the government loses revenue, placing a huge burden on law-abiding citizens and companies that pay their taxes diligently.

By deploying the bodycams, KRA is demonstrating that the work done by the employees should be transparent and subject to review as it is done in public.

The cameras will be able to record interactions with taxpayers, capturing issues raised and resolving the same. This will help to bring to light the circumstances under which some decisions — that will ultimately be recorded in documents and the taxman’s system — were made.

The use of this technology puts on notice employees who have been assisting individuals and companies to avoid or lower taxes in return for kickbacks or other favours.

It is expected that the use of bodycams will further reduce revenue leakages. The KRA has been collecting more taxes after intensifying the war on corruption among its employees.

The tax agency anticipates that it will exceed its revenue collection target by Sh140 billion in the current fiscal year, eyeing Sh2 trillion in total collections for the period.

The KRA’s use of bodycams should be adopted by other critical areas of public service that are often the subject of disputes, corruption and abuse.

The National Police Service, often accused of corruption and brutality, is a prime candidate for use of bodycams.

Besides acting as deterrence for malpractice, the cameras are also important evidence-gathering tools when crimes are being investigated.