KRA to deploy surveillance drones in hunt for tax cheats

KRA's UAVs will fly at least 3,500 metres above the area being surveilled. [iStockphoto]

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will deploy surveillance drones as it steps up efforts to increase tax collections to Sh3 trillion in the 2023-24 financial year.

The taxman has kicked off the process of procuring two unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) that will fly at least 3,500 metres above the area being surveilled and controlled remotely with a range of at least 50 kilometres.

"The Kenya Revenue Authority invites tenders for the supply, delivery, testing and commissioning of two unmanned aircraft systems for aerial surveillance for a period of three years," said KRA in a request for bids published on Tuesday.

The drones will be equipped with high-definition video that can zoom up to 40 times and infrared cameras for night vision.

The drones will also be able to track objects autonomously and can fly at more than 80 kilometres per hour.

This comes on the back of a push by the government to increase tax revenue by a significant 30 per cent from Sh2 trillion collected in the 2021-22 financial year to Sh3 trillion in the 2023-2024 financial year and Sh4 trillion by 2025.

The National Treasury recently revealed that the government would boost the technology used in tax administration as part of measures to collect more taxes.     

This included rolling out an electronic tax invoice management system to double the collections from value-added tax and connecting to the back end of mobile money networks.

KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu last week said KRA was working to integrate its systems with telecommunications companies to enable the taxman to track and make collections on mobile money transactions in real-time.   

"We are looking at the telcos themselves for the income they generate and for the taxes that we should be collecting from those transactions," he said.

"We are also going to use that data to focus on other business, individuals that have been earning incomes that have been escaping our dragnet, pay bills and tills numbers; every other transactions in the digital space," he said.

KRA is also looking to increase collections from rental income by mapping residential properties and collect more from the customs and border control departments through enhanced data analytics.

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