KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE CABINET SECRETARY/NATIONAL TREASURY, MR. HENRY ROTICH, EGH DURING THE TAXPAYERS MONTH LAUNCH

SPEECHES 01/10/2018

Chairman and Board of Directors, Kenya Revenue Authority,

The Commissioner General,KRA

The KRA Tax Ambassador, former Chief Justice & President of theSupreme Court, Dr. Willy Mutunga

Management and Staff of Kenya Revenue Authority,

Distinguished Taxpayers,

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. I feel very honoured to preside over the launch of this year?s Taxpayers Month (TPM). I take this opportunity to once again thank the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), for bringing us together as taxpayers to celebrate this significant event. The Government and KRA have sustained this spirit of appreciating our taxpayers over the last 13 years. This is commendable and I urge KRA to sustain this initiative.
  2. Ladies and Gentlemen, taxpayers? month has been set aside every calendar year to recognize taxpayers in various sectors of our economy. The selflessness, hard work, and industry of these patriotic taxpayers has enabled Kenya fund development programmes. Through this effort, tax compliance has enabled us to meet our Development aspirations as a Nation.
  3. As a country wholly dependent on the patriotism of its diligent tax compliant citizens in building the economy, you have done Kenya proud. For this reason, I pay special tribute to you the taxpayer. I salute KRA for tirelessly working with taxpayers and the Kenyan citizenry in realizing our revenue mobilization agenda.
  4. I also commend KRA for taking the bold step in imputing a social face in our work. That KRA thought of impacting on lives of children in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda for the month is not only novel but also socially impactful. It shows you truly care about future taxpayers to whom we will pass the nation-building baton.
  5. I look forward to your Tax Summit later in the month ? which is a productive platform for discoursing around our major tax challenges, both at strategic and operational levels. I hope that through this Forum, we improve and enrich our stakeholder engagement portfolio, and ensure an all-inclusive tax administration approach. I urge all of us here to utilize the Forum to drive evidence-based tax policy formulation and implementation agenda.
  6. Further, I thank the former Chief Justice & President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Justice Willy Mutunga for in a humble and honourable way accepting to be KRA Tax Ambassador. Your commitment to a tax compliant society cannot be understated. We hope that through the selfless act of the single person in you, Kenyans will believe in tax compliance and view paying of taxes as a source of personal pride and unrivalled call to patriotic duty. We extend this invitation to you at the National Treasury as well ? that through your knowledge, personal reflections, and conviction in such a critical subject, we may benefit on how to make tax compliance a way of life rather than a hot and debate-ridden event.
  7. Today, I will also be presenting to you the new KRA website. The new look portal is taxpayer friendly and will refine and broaden our interaction with citizens to improve customer experience. As one of the two platforms for landing into KRA (together with the Contact Centre), I am proud to be associated with the bold step KRA has taken to ? its service delivery and inject innovation into new public management. KRA?s winning of the modern customer experience award this year is testament to this fact.
  8. Ladies and Gentlemen, as the Commissioner General earlier noted, the 2018 Taxpayers Month activities shall be driven by the theme ?Expanding the Tax Base to Enable the Big Four Agenda?.
  9. In the last few months, taxation has lingered on the lips and tongues of Kenyans and there have been all sorts of analysts, conspiracy theories and declarations of doom. Taxation as a package can be confusing and overwhelming to anyone, most especially those doing business. It is something you are alive to everyday in your purchases and in your calculations as well as your monthly submissions.
  10. When the Government of the day sets about putting up tax laws, it may be considered by its citizenry as being punitive, yet it is the only way by which an economy grows and the Government serves her people. Arguably, these commitment cannot be met without taxation. We cannot provide the critical social services in health and education needed by the majority of Kenyans without taxation.We cannot meet the commitments under the Big Four Agenda without taxation.
  11. Ladies and Gentlemen, given these resource requirements, over the years as a Government we have initiated a number of reforms both legal and administrative targeted at improving tax compliance and expanding the tax base.
  12. Allow me to highlight some of these reforms. First, we have passed appropriate tax legislations aimed at simplifying and modernizing our tax laws. In this pursuit, most of the Tax Statutes have been reviewed. We have already simplified and modernized the VAT, Tax Procedures and Tax Appeals Tribunal legislations and a new Excise Tax Act is fully operational.
  13. Second, through the budget speech that I delivered in June this year, we | proposed key amendments to the Value Added Tax Act, the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act, Excise Duty Act, Tax Procedures Act, Betting, Gaming and Lottedes Act, Kenya Revenue Act/Public Finance Management Regulations and the Stamp Duty Act. The overall goal of these amendments is to expand the tax base as well -as raise tax compliance levels a notch higher.
  14. Third, we are in the process of overhauling the Income Tax Act. Already, we have a draft Income Tax Bill that is being drafted by the Attorney General after undergoing public participation in accordance with the Constitutional requirement. ? The review of the Income Tax Act was informed by the need to simplify and modernize the Act, expand the tax base; enhance equity and progressivity and incorporate the international taxation principles including transfer pricing. We shall shortly be submitting the Bill to Parliament for approval.
  15. Fourth, together with the other East African Community (EAC) Partner States, we are in the process of reviewing the EAC Customs Management Act, 2004 and the EAC Common External Tariff. These reviews are expected to address implementation challenges and enhance efficiency in customs administration in the region.
  16. Fifth, we are expanding the tax base by targeting informal sector, pursue non- filers and increase focus on taxation of international transactions and transfer pricing. For instance, in the budget speech that I delivered in June this year, we introduced a presumptive tax on business permits.
  17. Sixth, together, with KRA, we have enhanced the use of technology to improve tax administration and collection. As you are aware, Kenya is among the first countries in the world to aggressively build an IT ecosystem in order to ease tax administration while at the same time enabling the taxpayers to comply. The use of technology has facilitated the collection and assessment of taxpayer data, enabling quick and targeted responses to taxpayers for enhanced compliance.
  18. There is no doubt that all the technological innovations that we have put in place to enhance tax administration such as i-Tax, Regional Electronic Tracking System (RECTS), Integrated Customs Management Systems (iCMS), and Excisable Goods Management System (EGMS), have been helpful in this respect.
  19. These reforms have yielded fruits with our tax revenues growing over the years. Building on this progress, we are currently implementing a Revenue Enhancement Initiative Programme together with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which focuses on enhancing tax administration and compliance.
  20. Key among the initiatives under the Revenue Enhancement Initiative Programme, is the use of i-Tax system which will help to detect non-compliance through data matching and 3rd party data utilization.
  21. To recoup full benefits of the technological integration and innovation, I urge KRA to expedite the integration of i-Tax with the Integrated Customs Management Systems (iCMS) and IFMIS. This will make Customs declaration processes more customer friendly and prevent concealment,undervaluation, mis-declarations and falsifications of import documents. This will further enable KRA identify all the persons and firms doing business with the Government, either at the National or at the County Level. In this respect, I direct KRA Board and Management to ensure that this integration is completed and fully operational by the end of this quarter.
  22. In conclusion, Ladies? and Gentlemen, I reaffirm the Government?s commitment to fostering a conducive business environment. We will continue to pass appropriate legislations in order to make it easier to start and run businesses in Kenya. We will not relent in the current efforts in combating illicit trade and contrabands. We will also reinforce our support to you in strengthening your leverage on technology to reform tax processes and prioritize customer-focused revenue administration.
  23. Finally, I commend all of you for the immense contribution to our country?s development. I urge you all to support this Taxpayers Month.
  24. It is now my pleasure to launch the new look KRA website (waits for two minutes for the website feature to play) and unveil our Tax Ambassador, Hon. Dr.Willy Mutunga (He comes up and shakes hands in applause).
  25. I now declare the Taxpayer?s Month, 2018 officially launched.

Thank you and God Bless You All.

October 1, 2018