President William Ruto yesterday directed Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers to be courteous and stop harassing Kenyans when collecting taxes.
Ruto, who appeared to address increasing complaints over harassment of Kenyans by KRA officers at airports, said KRA should be firm in tax collection but not punitive.
He said that KRA could be efficient and effective while being courteous and considerate while serving the taxpayers and other members of the public.
“Effective revenue collection doesn't need to be unpleasant and demeaning to members of the public, it is possible to be courteous, kind, and gentle to taxpayers and at the same time become even more effective and efficient in tax collection,” said Ruto.
Speaking during the 2023 Taxpayers' Day in Mombasa, Ruto set a new tax target for the KRA from the current Sh3 trillion to Sh4 trillion in the next financial year.
He said KRA should expand the tax base and innovate to meet the target, adding that revenue generated has risen from Sh1.5 billion to Sh9 billion due to the efficiency of the system.
He said the implementation of the national digital identity framework will facilitate the collection of relevant data for revenue collection.
Ruto said that although there has been improvement in the country’s revenue performance, there remains vast room for improvement.
“What is required is the exercise of greater imagination, commitment to national values and principles of governance, the use of technology and innovation to improve services delivery.
“I note and appreciate that KRA has been undertaking reforms in this direction, which include the use of technology to integrate the taxpayer and revenue administration systems to allow real-time, automatic exchange of actionable data," said the president.
On E-citizen, Ruto said the decision to digitise over 13,000 government services has enhanced revenue performance. He said the Cabinet, during its sitting in Mombasa, approved the Public Audit (Amendment) Bill 2023, which will enhance the Auditor General’s independence and transparency.
The amendments seek to give the Auditor General powers to ensure the proper utilisation of public resources through auditing and to investigate fraud.
“… there is simply no space for wastage and corruption because that would be the recipe for disastrous failure. Our tolerance to corruption is absolute zero,” said the Head of State.
The president was flanked by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua who defended government functionaries’ foreign trips. He said Ruto’s visits abroad are to attract investors.
"I assure Kenyans that every foreign trip is economically planned and has economic gains. The president must travel to look for investors. The visits have started to show good signs.
“These visits have made Kenya a destination of choice for tourists and that is why all hotels in Mombasa and Maasai Mara are fully booked," said Gachagua.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u said despite the economic challenges brought about by global factors, there were positive signs in the tax generation.
The CS said that contrary to the claims of introducing a travel tax, the government had not introduced any new laws but implemented the ones passed last year.
“The government has not introduced a new tax on travel. The last time we made tax changes was in June 2022 and that is what we are implementing,” he said.