Business / Technology
Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 18:57 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The Taita Taveta County assembly has suspended the use of a computerized revenue collection system run on the county's behalf by Strathmore University, blaming the system for reduction in tax earnings since its introduction in April 2015.
County finance executive Vincent Masawi and his ICT counterpart Elijah Mwandoe told the County Assembly Thursday that, contrary to expectations, the automation of revenue collection had not seen any increase in county revenue collection.
The assemblymen were told that all revenue collection data since the launch of the system was not available at the county government but was being held by Strathmore University which developed and commissioned the system. “The data is not with us. We don’t have control over the system. Strathmore University is the one controlling the main server,” said Mwandoe, the ICT executive.
Mwandoe's testimony to the assembly indicated revenue collections improved substantially in the weeks following the system's introduction, but after a short while collections began to decline. "What this shows is that the revenue collectors must have discovered how to play around with the gadgets. We are working out measures to stop these challenges,” he said.
This remark did not go down well with the assemblymen who accused the county government of not doing enough to improve revenue collection. “We have not been collecting revenues from Mtitu Andei and Mackinon areas where there are disputes with Makueni and Kwale counties. The businesspeople in those areas are ready to pay revenue to our government, but we have done little to reach them,” said Sagalla MCA Godwin Kilele who said the county government was depending too much on national government allocations.
Assembly Speaker Meshack Maghanga ended the debate with a ruling suspended the revenue collection system. “The resolution of the assembly is that the technology stands suspended from today. Revenue collected at the ground is not reaching the county kitty because people have been pocketing the money. We believe this was a ploy by a few people to swindle county revenue through the use of the gadgets,” said Maghanga.
The assembly has also learnt that Taita Taveta is also losing revenues from sand being harvested in the county by contractors from Tanzania, which shares the border with Kenya at Taita Taveta. The assembly’s deputy speaker, Chrispinus Tondoo, told assemblymen last Thursday that county revenue officials did not collect cess from Tanzanian contractors who ferry sand across the border.
“No revenue is being paid by Tanzanian contractors for the sand they collect at Kitobo (a rich harvesting centre in the county). We lose a lot of revenue to Tanzania,” Tondoo told the assembly.