TRA always chugging towards self-reliance

THE overall spirit of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is to garner revenue to capacity level to enable the government realise its desire to finance its recurrent national budget.

This is stated in the fifth corporate plan for the 2017 / 18 – 2021 / 22 period. It has the plan for emphasis on enhancing domestic revenue collection. This bears in mind that the ongoing regional integration cooperation and contribution from international trade taxes will keep on declining, hence government budget requirements rely on domestic taxes.

In other words, this is the drive towards self-reliance, to cut off groveling for foreign aid and to meet the country’s desire to finance its recurrent national budget.

This situation will make Tanzania a self-reliant nation as opposed to what it has been doing – groveling for aid from foreign friendly countries every financial year.

In fact, TRA which was introduced during the second phase presidency of Ali Hassan Mwinyi, was and is supposed to collet revenue increasingly to liberate Tanzania from poverty it has suffered from for many years.

And indeed, the TRA was “Born to Succeed”. The see – sawing it experienced during the last 20 years are springboards to drive it fast towards greater successes in the coming years, leading to self-reliance. When launching the TRA on June 1996, the third phase government of the United Republic of Tanzania President Benjamini William Mkapa (late), said the tradition of groveling for aid must stop now that “we have introduced the financial agency which will collect revenue increasingly”.

The TRA is one of the major parts of the national conveyer belt rolling towards the country’s serious need for self-reliance socio-economically. The conveyer belt composes and includes the giant Julius Nyerere power generator being built on the Rufiji River and solar and wind projects expected to take off in 2025.

Also included in the belt is the broadened infrastructure of industries of various sizes and of high productivity both foreign and local. Another component is an efficient and broader network comprising of roads, railways and airways.

The government and the private sector have jointly placed Tanzania in the “halcyon era” _____ a peaceful and happy period. President Mwinyi introduced the TRA after his team of ministers noticed an economic leakage in the annual budgets.

It proved that if properly implemented, TRA is the best revenue collecting agency. On its fifth corporate plan for the years 2017/18 2021/22, TRA has revisited its Act in chapter 399 which became operational on 1st July 1996, and in its introduction it says: “Over the years of its existence, the authority has been conducting its business guide by five years’ corporate plans.

“The plans have aided the authority to have common strategic direction in the course of discharging its mandate.

“This approach of managing corporate affairs has enabled the Authority to achieve remarkable performance in the mobilisation of government revenue”, the booklet containing the Fifth Corporate plan says.

And indeed, TRA as a government agency, did just what is provided in its Act, mobilizing government revenue for about 26 years. Although collection of revenue has been see-sawing in some cases because of existence of rampant corruption, the fight against this evil, which robbed the government substantial revenue every year, is now under strong control.

The Authority has strengthened its department of tax investigation to monitor the trend of corruption and fraud, driving them to their grave. In other words, revenue has been rising without see-sawing seriously.

“In an effort to boost the government ability to finance its recurrent budget, the TRA has undertaken a reassessment of the way it conducts its business. In so doing, it looked at areas where it did well in order to sustain the achievements and identify weaknesses and challenges that affected its performance so as to devise strategies that warrant continued improvement in performance”, the booklet says.

The CP (the fifth corporate plan) therefore after taking all these factors into consideration is expected that the strategies designed in this plan will take TRA into yet another higher level of performance to realize its priorities,” the booklet says.

In fact, the TRA clarifies why the strategic direction of the Fifth Corporate Plan has been put in place during the period 2017/18 – 2021/22. The strategic direction of the TRA during the five years of the CPs will be composed of the vision, mission, core values, themes, strategic objectives and initiatives.

Moreover, CPs details revenue projections for mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar which are also presented by major economic activities for the duration of the plan. “It can be done, play your part,” said President Julius Nyerere (late) many years ago. The magic is in “strong belief” that Tanzania can become an immensely wealthy country if it works as planned.

It is strong belief and positive action to drive towards the planned industrial program, which will bring about the miracle. TRA’s vision statement says: “to increase domestic revenue through enhancement of voluntary tax compliance” The vision is in line with the government priorities and plan such as National Development Vision 2025 and second five years’ development plan 2016/17 – 2020/21.

This emphasizes on increasing through improving contribution.

This will be achieved through improving efficiency in tax administration and continuing to widen the tax base. That means collecting increased revenue, especially from the subsectors of manufacturing, financial and insurance, information and communication, oil and gas.

This include mining and quarrying, tourism, construction, real estate activities and incomes from the informal sector. The vision is dovetailed in the strategic direction of the Fifth Corporate Plan 2017/18 – 2021/22. This strategic direction also includes TRA’s mission statements and core values.

The vision of any institution in the world is not embedded in its constitution for the fun of it. It is supposed to enable the participants to see clearly where they are going and what “good” they are supposed to achieve for their organisation.

TRA is supposed to achieve nothing else but “increase domestic revenue through enhancement of voluntary tax compliance” The drive towards this goal is frequently disturbed by the people or businessmen who are filled to the brim with a “Jeremiah Complex”, who argue that the tax they evade helps them to develop their business. It is no secret that such people do hide government revenue in their secret banks.

President John Pombe Magufuli and his team of ministers exposed the hidden government taxes in billions of shillings. Solution? The TRA MUST strengthen its department of fighting corruption and fraud.

And, indeed, it is doing so with vim, vigor and vitality, as the county drives fast towards total self-reliance to cut off the incessant groveling for aid from foreign friendly countries.

No doubt, the performance of TRA will lead to self-reliance as envisioned in the country’s policy of socialism and selfreliance. However, self reliance is the most obvious direction as seen in the decision to increase the number of industries.

As Tanzania is driving fast towards its vision of increasing the number of industries, it is also increasing sources of tax revenue. To tap on this envisioned increase of industries, TRA is also strengthening its tax collection power by fighting corruption and its twin brother, fraud.

This revenue agency is fighting these twins through the strength of the department of tax investigation. According to the TRA’s Fifth Corporate Plan, an anti – corruption strategy and action plan has been developed. This initiative is aimed at curbing the twin evils and restoring the lost positive public image of the TRA.

For example, “revenue collection has been growing remarkably over the years, whereby TRA realized 9,383 billion shillings, showing an increase of 61 per cent,” the Fifth Corporate Plan reports. It is strongly believed that the upward trend of revenue collection will be sustained as corruption is being fought left and right.

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