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Tax collection: Mucheru backs KRA on data mining

By Macharia Kamau | Published Wed, October 3rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated October 2nd 2018 at 20:44 GMT +3
CS Ministry of ICT Joe Mucheru during the unveiling of Connected 2018 partners in Nairobi on Thursday Sep 20, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Government has started collating information held by service providers in a bid to give the Kenya Revenue Authority more reach in tax collection.

The ICT Ministry yesterday said existing laws gave KRA the leeway to access information held by service providers and other entities, including banks and telecommunications firms, in its quest to grow the tax base.

ALSO READ: Why KRA wants to track all bank and mobile cash transactions

“KRA has a lot of leeway to access information as it tries to grow tax collection. Taxes are a very big issue and we need people to pay taxes so that we can afford the things we need to do but they need not take away people’s privacy and protection,” said ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru.

The CS spoke yesterday during a consultation forum on the proposed Data Protection Bill.

However, he acknowledged the existence of grey areas in the law on the limits the Government and custodians of public data can reach in collecting and using this information. 

“We need to create a balance between privacy and national security as well as development goals that we have as a country,” said Mr Mucheru.

KRA has in the past made attempts to get access to the information but failed because of lack of enabling legislation.

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Reach out

Mucheru said the recently enacted Access to Information Act gives KRA the mandate to reach out to other entities and be provided with such data. In the absence of a data protection law, there have been fears that such information could be abused.

KRA on Monday said it planned to raise Sh60 billion in the financial year to June 2019 by targeting mobile phone data as well as membership information that is held by professional bodies.

ALSO READ: Big brother turns banks into powerful Government spy agents

By matching data from bank accounts with that of professional associations, KRA will be able to identify tax cheats and move in on them.

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