KAMPALA, UGANDA -Online tax payments using the e-Tax platform seem to be paying off as statistics from the Uganda Revenue Authority have shown.
The revenue performance results released last week indicate that the net revenue for January 2012 grew to Ushs512.3b ($223m) compared to Ushs447.8b ($195m) realized in January 2011. This was a 14% increase from the net revenue realized in January 2011.
The amount (January 2012) though less than the target of Ush514.3m was welcome relief to the tax body that experienced a large shortfall of about Ush.63.3b ($28m) in December 2011.
The Ugandan tax body experienced a reduction in the shortfall of only Ush.1.97b ($856,000) in January 2012. Officials from URA said the e-Tax platform has played a key role in improving the efficiency of tax collection because of the ease it provides to the customers.
"It (e-Tax) has ultimately contributed positively to the overall tax base as it has improved efficiency and reduced the amount of time would spend on clearing their dues", said Mr. Protasio Begumisa, Acting Commissioner Domestic Taxes during this month's revenue media briefing in Kampala last week.
He added that URA was concluding the actualization of a Short Message Service (SMS) that would notify a customer whenever their taxes are paid. This he said would ultimately eliminate the middlemen (Clearing agents) who have always been accused of undervaluation and under-declaration of goods.
"As we consolidate gains of e-Tax, more tax payers are finding it easier to utilize the online services to transact with us. For example, new registrations made through the web portal increased from 2,440 in January 2011 to 5,125 in January 2012, which was a 110%", Begumisa said.
The tax body hopes to hit the February target that has been set at Ushs470.08b ($204 m) because of the developments in the oil and gas sector as well as improvements in the energy sector. January's shortfall of $856,000 has taken the revenue shortfall to Ush.73b and URA officials believe going forward, the shortfall will eventually be offset.
Meanwhile developments in the Oil and gas sector, as well as developments in the energy sector are expected spear head swift recovery in the revenue performance, according to URA officials.
Speaking during the Monthly revenue performance media briefing for January in Kampala last week, Mr. Richard Kamajugo, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner Customs Department, said the future was promising as the recent developments in the oil and gas as well as energy sectors will boost revenue collection.
"The withholding shortfall of Ush.10.7b ($4.6m) in the revenue collections is mainly attributed to the slowdown in activities in the oil and gas sector that has become a major contributor to the tax head.
With the recent developments in the sector, we expect this trend to be reversed and we should see that happening immediately", Kamajugo said.
He also added that the performance of the economy report for December 2011 indicated that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the first quarter of the Financial Year 2011/12 was 0.4%, which was lower than the projected annual growth of 6.60%.
"The lower growth was attributed to a contraction in industrial production which declined by 7.2% affected by severe power shortages and increased production costs.
By Emma Onyango: The East Africa Business Week Newspaper