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5 Major Structural Reforms At RRA

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Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has been undergoing structural reforms for the past ten years. Key focus on the reforms is digitising service delivery.

Implementation of electronic solutions leveraging on evolving technology has been very critical in ensuring the improvement of taxpayer service delivery and re-engineering RRA’s internal processes in a bid to build a strong revenue administration.

The Commissioner General of RRA, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, spoke to Taarifa about the major reforms since 2010.

1. The electronic single window system in customs has been ranked among the best, worldwide, on matters to do with easy sharing of information among trade regulation stakeholders, faster clearance of traded goods, as well as improved transparency due to limited human interventions.

2. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has significantly reduced the cost of doing business by eliminating the physical escort of cargo and the cost related to it. The number of days for importation from Mombasa to Kigali has reduced from 21 to 16, to a maximum of five (5) days today. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has also contributed to efforts of fighting smuggling since it has eliminated the diversion of cargo.

3. The E-Tax system is a solution for electronic filling and electronic payment. Taxpayers can file their tax returns using their home/office computers/laptops regardless of their location. The system also accommodates other useful modules such as Audit and Refund Management, Debt Management that helps the tax administration in enforcement and tax arrears recovery, Motor vehicle management such as motor vehicle registration and ownership transfer, Tax Account and Registration/De-registration of taxpayers. The system has ushered in numerous benefits to the tax administration and to the taxpayers.

4. Electronic Billing Machine: Since the introduction of EBM in 2013, RRA witnessed an increase in VAT collections from Rwf110.5 billion in 2013 to Rwf450.7 billion in 2019 while VAT payables increased by 99.34 %. The system has also increased income tax collection and allowed the setup of controls to validate input and output provided that there was appropriate management of supply chain. Three years ago, RRA introduced the new improved version of the EBM which is more efficient and has eased tracking of transactions on the part of both RRA and taxpayers. The new internet based EBM which aimed at improving compliance and widening the tax base has addressed all the loopholes that existed in the older EBM.

5. Local Government Tax System has improved the management of Local Taxes declaration and payment. The system provide solutions from Registration of taxpayers, Declaration, Audit, enforcement and enables accurate reporting. For accurate and timely reporting on revenue Collection, the Tax Administration introduced SAGE X3.

All these reforms introduced in the last decade, Ruganintwali says, have significantly improved tax compliance, transparency in tax declaration and tax collection since taxpayers can pay precise taxes based on accurate income generated.

Technology in tax collection has ensured certainty in target setting and forecasting since it makes it easier to know what should be happening in the near future.

What are the innovations coming up soon?

He says new operating model currently under implementation intends to become a more data centric tax body that collects as much as possible in terms of revenue and also facilitates taxpayers systematically through electronic systems.

“We are designing new mechanisms leveraging on technology to develop solutions that will ensure high level of compliance among taxpayers through accurate declarations across all tax-heads. Among them, include my RRA project, a solution that will gather all taxpayers’ information in one place. Taxpayers could log into their accounts and have all the information they need to know with less efforts and time. Other projects include the enhancement of electronic Cargo tracking among others.

“Strengthening the institutional capacity (structural review and capacity building of workforce) will remain among our top priorities,” he notes.

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Business

Kagame Advocates For Investment Into Africa’s Agriculture Value Chain

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Agriculture and agri-business, especially in Africa, will drive the continent’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, President Paul Kagame has said.

“This is especially true as we work to make
up for the time lost to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said adding that, “Each country and region must chart its own pathway to transformation, but this is also a global challenge that we must address together.”

Kagame was speaking in his capacity as the Chair of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee at the official ceremony of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 Pre-Summit.

In Africa, he continued, 70% of the working-age population is employed in the agricultural sector.

“But our continent’s food markets are often fragmented, and links to food processing and value addition services are sometimes lacking,” the President said.

He noted that digital technologies and biotechnology are playing a greater role in African agriculture, but too many farmers do not yet have reliable access.

And that financial services and products for farmers, including insurance, are generally inadequate.

“As a result, Africa’s food producers do not earn the level of income that they deserve, and they must cope with high levels of economic risk and uncertainty,” Kagame added.

According to the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, David Beasley, 41 million people are on the brink of famine today.

“Planet earth, shame on us that we let a single person go to bed hungry,” said.

“We have the expertise to end hunger, but we urgently need the money. This is a global call to action – all hands on deck,” he added.

Transformation is a necessity, according to Presidemt Kagame.

This is why the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD, has worked to facilitate an African Common Position in advance of the Food Systems Summit, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.

Kagame offered two proposition.

Africa will pursue solutions in the following priority tracks:

One, adopt nutritious food policies, establish food reserves, and expand school feeding programs.

Two, support local markets and food supply chains, invest in agro-processing for healthy foods, and expand trade in food products within Africa.

The UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for the UN’ Food Systems Summit, Agnes M. Kaliba,  told participants that the summit is much very powerful than she thought.

“The energy,  and hopes in each room today were palpable!. We need to leverage the incredible power of food to deliver a step change in the SDGs- this is a one in a generation opportunity,” she said.

Myrna Cunningham, speaking for Indiginous People, said that, “Our current Food Systems is based on extreme irresponsibility; We need a food system that is based on rights including Economic empowerement and rights and rights to land.”

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Business

Airtel Rwanda MD Steps Down

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It is learnt through reliable sources that Amit Chawla has decided to step down after completing a three-year term as Managing Director for Airtel Rwanda.

Normally, he would have had his contract extended or rotated to another operation in the company’s footprints, but a source told Taarifa that he is leaving the industry to do other businesses.

A new executive will be announced soon, it is said.

Amit, who took over the newly merged entity on August 31, 2018, during which time he oversaw the achievements of several milestones.

Chief among his accomplishments include the consolidation of the brand Airtel after the takeover of Tigo, its people, products and services as well as modernization of the country’s network, a project that saw the expansion of the Airtel Rwanda Network and saw the consolidation of Airtel’s reputation as the internet provider of choice for Mobile Internet in Rwanda.

During his time with the organization as MD, Airtel Rwanda oversaw great changes. Under his leadership, programs grew and services became more easily available to all customers.

Chawla led the company’s pandemic response that saw Airtel Rwanda direct its CSR budget towards governments efforts to tackle the initial response to the Global pandemic.

Under his leadership, Airtel has gained a reputation for launching ground breaking and bold campaigns such as the recent Va Kugiti Campaign that generated a lot of buzz in the Rwandan market.

Chawla, also oversaw the successful roll out of the Airtel Money Branch (AMB) concept, with 71 shops opened in Kigali alone.

The AMB’s concept has completely revolutionized the proximity of a telecom operator to her network of Agents and Freelancers, enabling them to access up to Rwf5 million within walking distance.

Chawla was unavailable for comment.

 

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Business

First Chinese Electric Car To Reach Europe Disrupts Markets

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Chinese automaker Aiways has resorted to livestreaming its all-electric cars to potential clients across the globe.

“The design is very simple and uncluttered,” one of the presenters said as she detailed the U5’s design and capabilities. “The car is modern, and even the mode of distribution is modern.”

“Modern” distribution here means replicating the “live commerce” experience of Aiways’ home country — using livestreaming events to drum up interest and sales online. The company ships its cars through local partners to customers in Europe from its factory in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi.

That arrangement helps Aiways keep prices down. The U5 is priced from around 39,000 euros ($46,000), 10% to 15% cheaper than its rivals, according to the company.

Alexander Klose, the Aiways executive vice president in charge of overseas operations says, “We have some challenges, but overall, I would say it has been fairly positive for us, and we have seen a fairly positive recognition.”

Aiways is not alone: A growing number of Chinese EV makers are setting their sights on overseas markets — and they intend to compete on quality as much as price.

BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by U.S. investment guru Warren Buffett, is betting on Norway. It shipped its first 100 European-specification SUVs to dealers there this June, and it plans to deliver 1,500 by the end of the year.

Like Aiways, BYD is keen to take advantage of overseas consumers’ improving perception of Chinese products.

“We are not going to make the same mistakes as other Chinese brands did more than 10 years ago in the European theater. They tried to launch vehicles in a very cheap and rushed way, without being fully prepared,” a BYD spokesperson told Nikkei Asia.

“Most people haven’t heard of BYD until now, so it is more important to do things right than [to] start talking about [sales volume].”

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