By Annet Nantongo
September 5th 1991 saw the birth of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) the Act of Parliament Cap. 196 enacted and established the agency as a statutory body mandated to administer tax in Uganda. The institution has grown over the 30 years to become a beacon of hope and a blue print for other African revenue bodies.
Biblically the 30th birthday heralds one’s adult status with measured indulgence and also positioning as a year of major breakthroughs. For instance, our Lord Jesus Christ started his ministry at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23). Joseph, the 11th child of Jacob, became a Prime Minister in Egypt at the same age and his achievements at that time cannot be underestimated as it is written in Genesis 41 verse 46.
Part of the meaning of the number 30 comes from it symbolizing dedication to a particular task or calling. Aaronic priests in the bible were initially dedicated into service at thirty years of age (Numbers 4:3). God chose this age because it marked both the physical and mental maturity of a person, with ability to handle major responsibilities. Prophetically, the number 30 means maturity, loyalty and true dedication.
In alignment to the significant realization of the Vision 2040; and the pivotal landmark of our 30-year Anniversary; the Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi noted that this year marks the beginning of an exciting transformational journey with a higher calling of Uganda’s economic independence in which is aligned to the sacred mandate for which URA was established.
“This transformation journey firmly sets us on course to foster revenue mobilization in a bid to fully finance Uganda’s national budget to free our nation from donor dependency, encourage a healthy flow of investment, and address fairness and transparency in the tax administration.
He added that in order for URA to achieve her mandate, the vision, mission and core values were repositioned to fit into the Vision 2040 and NDP III that seek to transition Uganda’s economy into a middle income status country.
URA Commissioner General- John Rujoki Musinguzi
At the 30th anniversary thanksgiving ceremony organised on Wednesday 15th September 2021, URA was graced with the presence of Uganda’s president Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa as the guest of honour, who, coincidentally was celebrating his 77th birthday on the same day.
The event was set apart as a time to dedicate URA’s next phase of service into God’s hands. A host of multi-religious leaders took to the pulpit to pray for the country, the peace, the economy, and transformation of URA as it strives to evolve Uganda’s strategic development.
The fountain of honour, Gen. Kaguta Museveni, was however displeased with the progress in Uganda’s tax to GDP ratio, trade facilitation measures, and revenue collections over the years. He attributed the trailing performance to high levels of corruption which he related to the spirit of Judaism. He juxtaposed Judas Iscariot as the face of corruption and Joseph, Jacob’s son, as the desired leadership role model that
“While we celebrate the achievements lined over the last 30 years, be cognizant that revenue contributions to the economy are too low and this is because of the high levels of corruption. Rid yourselves of all the Judas Iscariots who are enemies of our country’s progress. Seek out and hire people who have the Joseph likeness because they, like Joseph, are great governors of resources who should be trusted” Gen. Kaguta Museveni cautioned URA.
President Museveni witnessed URA’s senior management team as they took an oath of allegiance where they committed to diligent service to taxpavers and the nation as well as zero tolerance to corruption.
At the same auspicious event, a cross-section of former board members, commissioner generals and staff were celebrated for the milestones highlighted over the years. Speaking on behalf of the URA staff emeritus, Mrs. Allen Kagina affirmed that if URA laid its foundation on the principles of God, they will eventually birth testimonies where locally generated revenue will sufficiently address the budget needs of Uganda’s economv.
In tandem with the President’s words of caution. URA has launched a comprehensive integrity strategy, managed by the recently created Staff Compliance
division, that fosters a robust integrity culture and rebuilds the URA credibility and brand with zero tolerance to corruption.
In addition, a the Taxman has employed a multi-pronged approach that will rebuild her credibility as a trusted partner; enhance human capital to foster a dynamic learning and innovation culture that will drive continuous transformation; leverage technology, data and innovation to progress from digitalization to personalization in the Tax administration systems; simplify and integrate business processes that will enhance simple, transparent, and convenient, client-centric integrated tax services; strengthen the Tax education and empowerment of taxpayers; and deliver a unified and interactive service support solution which will provide end-to-end standardized support for URA clients.
Members of the URA senior taking an oath of renewed service commitment during the thanksgiving ceremony
The process of mobilizing revenue can only be achieved with deliberate stakeholder management and partnership with the civil society, taxpayers, respective government leaders, MDAs, legislators and the citizens, each playing their roles concertedly to contribute to national development.