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Automated revenue collection system in Wundanyi collapses

By Renson Mnyamwezi | June 22nd 2016

WUNDANYI, KENYA: Half of the automated revenue collection gadgets and systems purchased by the county government to improve revenue collection have broken down, the county assembly was told on Tuesday.
Taita-Taveta County Government used millions of shillings to buy 100 gadgets but only 50 are working hence creating loopholes in tax collection and a lot of money pilferage.
ICT experts from Strathmore University that supplied the automated devices said the machines could have been manipulated by corrupt individuals from the government to embezzle public funds.
County Executive Committee (CEC) member in-charge of Finance and Planning Vincent Masawi said the gadgets were purchased from the University last year, which had also been offering ICT research and consultancy services to the county administration.
The county assembly that summoned Dr Masawi and two ICT experts from the university noted that revenue had decreased at alarming levels in the recent past due to alleged inept and corruption among some revenue department officials.
The members of the county assembly (MCAs) told the Speaker Meshack Maghanga and the university ICT officials that the county had lost enormous resources since the gadgets were introduced which would have helped to strengthen revenue collection in the county.
The university officials included the project ICT Manager Tirus Wayoike and a consultant in governance Rohit Reddy.
The university officials told the speaker that the university was given a tender to only supply the gadgets and offer consultancy services and not to maintain them.
"The agreement signed between the university and the county administration is very clear that we supply the equipment and offer consultancy services only. Repair of the machines is to be done by the county government," explained Mr Wanyoike,
He said the university also carried out a number of programmes in the county government ICT security.
"The project has worked well in Kiambu and Busia counties. The automation project is aimed at reducing bureaucracy, cumbersome paper work and embezzlement of public and help improve revenue collection," he said.
"The project started six years ago and is aimed at inducing transparency and accountability in the application process," Wanyoike told the Speaker while defending the university's project.
He said: "The importance of the project is that the data generated from the machine is not lost if network goes off. Once the data is generated it will be made available even if the network goes off. The data is also reflected at the university that controls the automated system,"
The university officials said the systems could have been interfered with by some corrupt county officials to embezzle funds. "We have been monitoring how revenue collected and banked through the electronic system. The machines are networked with the university ICT system and it is difficult to steal money," said Wanyoike.
The MCAs claimed the revenue department officials had been using the old system of receipt books to collect revenue after the gadgets collapsed, making it difficult for the resources to be accounted for.
"It is difficult to monitor and reconcile such money collected manually. The system could have been manipulated so that the revenue collected cannot be captured in the electronic system," Mr Reddy told the house.


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