Magufuli sacks TRA chairman, dissolves board

Monday November 21 2016

President Magufuli yesterday sacked Tanzania

President Magufuli yesterday sacked Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) board chairman Bernard Mchomvu. 

By Athuman Mtulya @mtulya amtulya@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. President Magufuli yesterday sacked Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) board chairman Bernard Mchomvu.

Dr Magufuli also dissolved the TRA board in yet another shake-up of the revenue agency.

Mr Mchomvu’s sacking was announced through a State House statement, which, however, did not specify the reason for his removal. Mr Mchomvu was first appointed TRA board chairman in August 2011.

It is the second time in a year President Magufuli has made high-profile changes at the authority.

Less than a month after he was sworn in on November 5, last year, the Head of State sacked TRA Commissioner General Rished Bade and his deputy, Mr Lusekelo Mwaseba, after it was established that importers evaded about Sh80 billion in tax on 349 containers that were irregularly cleared at Dar es Salaam Port.

Dr Magufuli appointed the Executive Secretary of the Planning Commission, Dr Philip Mpango, as Mr Bade’s replacement.

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Dr Mpango held the post briefly before he was appointed Minister of Finance and Planning last December, paving the way for Mr Alphayo Kidata, the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, to become the third TRA commissioner general in a month.

Since taking over, Mr Kidata has overseen a major shake-up of TRA, including nationwide transfers aimed at curbing corruption and tax evasion.

President Magufuli yesterday appointed Mr Charles Kichere as TRA deputy commissioner general, but left the position of board chairman vacant. Mr Kichere formerly worked as Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) head of finance and chief accountant.

Since Dr Magufuli was sworn in, revenue collection has risen from a monthly average of Sh900 billion to well over Sh1.3 trillion.

However, total revenue collection in September was nearly eight per cent off the mark, according to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

“In September 2016, domestic revenue amounted to Sh1,406.5 billion, which was 84 per cent of the target for the month. Revenue collected by the central government was Sh1,365.4 billion, or 84.3 per cent of the target for the month. Tax revenue amounted to Sh1,284.2 billion, below the target by 7.9 per cent,” BoT says in its October 2016 report.

Before the September fall, according to BoT data, tax revenue for both August and July beat projections by about one per cent. TRA’s performance recently came under intense scrutiny in Parliament.

Debating the 2017/18 Budget Framework and National Development Plan, MPs from both the ruling CCM and opposition faulted TRA for failing to widen the tax base, and said the recent increase in tax revenue could be attributed to tax that was due but which was not collected.

“All these big numbers that we are currently seeing are arrears...they will soon be exhausted. If no interventions are made, TRA’s monthly collection will revert to the Sh900 billion mark where it was when President Jakaya Kikwete left office last year,” said Mr Ahmed Salum (Solwa-CCM).

Ms Rita Kabati (Special Seats-CCM) accused TRA officials of harassing businesspeople and investors in the agency’s endeavour to push up revenue collection numbers.

Responding to Ms Kabati’s concern, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa confirmed he was aware of the allegations, and added that the government was working on them.

“The government values investors and businesspeople. A big chunk of our budget depends on tax. We have been urging TRA officials to follow the law in executing their duties. We ask investors and businesspeople who feel they have not been treated fairly by TRA officials to lodge their complaints with the relevant authorities,” he said.