News and Views

Kagina defends URA,to tighten screw on fraud

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By David Mugabe

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General Allen Kagina has defended the institution against accusations of graft and insider fraud, saying the tax body was not on fire.

“This institution has proved itself in the last six or so years. That is why we have a fully-fledged investigations unit, which investigates tax evaders to recover revenue and also probes staff malpractices,” said Kagina during an interview.

She said all cases involving staff and non-staff were investigated.

Referring to a case, where a customs official was alleged to be a director in one of the companies evading tax, Kagina explained that the matter was investigated, leading to an extensive investigation and audit.

“In one company, the officer was not a director. In another company, he was a director, but he had declared his interest,” said Kagina.

She added that once the investigations are completed, the officer may be referred to the disciplinary committee.

She said she was curious to find out the outcome of the investigations, especially last week’s break-in. On Thursday night, unknown people broke into the car registry and stole computer hard drives and documents. But Kagina scoffed at them, saying the tax body was not naïve and has back-up for all its data.

“This can be diversionary, but it has come and we must deal with it. In an organisation of this size, it would be naïve to say that staff were involved or not,” said Kagina.

She said the tax authority undertakes several investigations and sometimes complete process audits to ensure that suspects get a fair hearing.

She admitted that there were tax evaders, who have been apprehended by the authority and may feel aggrieved. But even when they make allegations, they do not come out to show proof about complicit customs officials, she noted.

“This is a sensitive organisation; people need to be comfortable. I will not start sacking people on allegations. I will fire them if I they are culpable,” said Kagina.

On allegations that 166 firms have been irregularly included among importers listed to enjoy tax breaks, Kagina said she had instituted an investigation to check whether the tax exempt list was being abused.

“We will give you an answer on this,” she said.

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