Senators alarmed by cost of revenue collection systems

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi during the official opening of a tuition block at Chebonei Girls High School in Bomet County on March 23. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A Senate committee has expressed concerns over the huge amount of money county governments spend to procure automated revenue management collection systems.

Members of the Information and Communication Technology Committee, which is led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, wondered why counties had shelled out millions of shillings to acquire the systems yet there was still leakage of revenue.

This emerged during a meeting between the ICT committee and top officials of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to review how devolved units that automated their revenue collection methods are fairing on.

During the session with the senators, CRA vice-chair Humphrey Wattanga tabled a survey report on the implementation of the digitised revenue management systems for several counties.

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In the survey by the commission that involved 15 counties last year, Trans-Nzoia emerged as the county that has spent the highest amount of money to implement the system, with total costs coming to Sh79.1 million.

It was followed by Isiolo (Sh64.2 million), Kwale (57.8 million), Turkana (Sh35.9) Kisumu (Sh31 million) and Meru (Sh30 million).

During the survey period, Garissa had set aside Sh40 million in its budget for revenue automation.

Others counties are Nairobi and Vihiga (Sh23 million each), Sh20 million for both Murang’a and Siaya counties, while Kakamega spent Sh7 million.

The survey also revealed that the Machakos county government did not pay a cent for the system. Instead, Governor Alfred Mutua’s administration only pays transaction charges to Safaricom.

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Yesterday, Gideon led his colleagues in questioning the wisdom of spending millions of shillings of taxpayers’ money to digitise revenue collection and yet the devolved units still failed to meet revenue targets.”

“With the systems costing millions of shillings, why do we still have wastage and pilferage of revenue?” the senator asked.

He also pledged that the committee would work with the CRA to ensure  there was maximum collection of revenue in the counties.

Senators Malachy Imana (Turkana), Enoch Wambua (Kitui) and Abshiro Halake (nominated) suggested that county governments should be compelled to use cost-effective and efficient revenue collection systems.

“I am sure we have firms that can offer cheaper and effective automated revenue collection systems. Counties do not need to pay a lot of money for the systems, which still have leakages,” said Prof Imana.

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Mr Wambua said it was ironic that counties that had automated their systems were still collecting less revenue and failing to meet their fiscal targets.

Ms Halake said the waivers given by national and county governments were one of the reasons counties were struggling to meet revenue targets. She challenged the commission to come up with strategies on how the waivers could be managed.

Mr Wattanga told the committee that talks were at an advanced stage to introduce an automated revenue collection system for all the counties.

“We have done our research and we have our ideas. It is possible to have a single digitised revenue system for 47 counties,” he said.

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SenateBaringo Senator Gideon MoiCommission on Revenue Allocationrevenue automation