By Sarah Kibisi.
To many of us, April 01st 2020 is always considered as fool’s day trick but for URA’s Commissioner General, Mr John Musinguzi it was not fools. He received the instruments of power that ushered him into holding the reins for revenue administration at Uganda’s tax body – Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). While his investiture came amidst turbulent times at the Nakawa based organisation, he has scored major points in transforming revenue mobilization for the liberation of Uganda’s economy.
He set the ball rolling, riding on three principles of Patriotism, Integrity and Professionalism, to create a transformational revenue services for Uganda’s economic independence.
URA has consistently registered a growth in revenue collections every financial year. For instance, in FY 2020/2021, URA topped revenue growth in the East African region with a 14.99% growth in collections. Musinguzi registered 1% growth in Tax to GDP ratio and Net revenue of UGX 19,263 billion. Despite the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic and other global crises that affected the economy, URA collected UGX 21,659.44 billion – the highest collection in the history of our country. The revenue grew by 12.44% as compared to collections for FY 2020/21, signaling hopes for further growth in revenue mobilisation.
While the institution was marred with allegations of corruption with notable figures like the President of Uganda dubbing URA as a den of thieves, there was glaring evidence of revenue deficits and unpolished practices within the tax body.
Musinguzi, in his maiden address to URA staff, said “My focus in URA will be to tackle corruption, Tax education, enhance the human resource function, improve stakeholder relationships and leverage on technology and research to improve the integrity and revenue collections and growth of URA.”
For the last three years of leading revenue mobilisation, he has battled against corruption in the tax body. So far, 67 staff were dismissed on grounds of corruption including 3 who have been prosecuted and convicted accordingly. A n o t h e r considerable number of staff have answered to queries on how they perform their duties once reported for wanting behaviour by their colleagues, line managers or whistle blowers. This has greatly subsided many forms of corruption that staff is equally desisting from.
In 2021 the Management of URA adopted the Comprehensive Integrity Strategy (CIS) to fight corruption internally and improve service delivery and revenue collections. In addition, the URA Board of Directors, where Mr. Musinguzi is a member, incorporated robust policies such as URA Code of Conduct, Lifestyle Audit Policy, Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy, and Prevention of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Abuse of Office Policy; to fight corruption amongst staff ■