The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2013
Revenue Authority chief executives and board chairpersons representing 12 African countries have attended a seminar in South Africa, to discuss current issues relating to board governance and ways to improve governance of revenue administration.
Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, the Gambia, Lesotho, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were all represented at the event.
But missing at the seminar were the Commissioner General and the Chairman of Sierra Leone’s National Revenue Authority (NRA) – Ms. Haja Kallah Kamara and Mr. Charles A. Campbell.
This conspicuous absence has puzzled many in Sierra Leone, given the NRA’s poor performance in the administration of taxes collected for the public purse, as revealed in the published 2011 National Audit Report.
The seminar which took place on 10 – 12 April 2013 was a high-level event, organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in collaboration with the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
According to an IMF statement, this is the first seminar of its kind, where board chairpersons and chief executives of African revenue authorities have gathered to discuss current issues relating to board governance.
The event was financed by Topical Trust Fund on Tax Policy and Administration, which was established by the IMF in May 2011 to channel funds from other donors, into vital technical assistance to help countries improve their tax structures and operations.
The Board Chairman of the Swaziland Revenue Authority and CEO of MTN (Swaziland) – Mr. Ambrose Dlamini, described the seminar as vital to African countries that are struggling to manage their taxation policies.
He said: “It is a fact that a number of countries in Africa are faced with major challenges in the area of revenue administration. It is my considered view that countries should focus on improving governance or set up an effective governance framework for the revenue authority as a first step.
“This seminar on governance is a timely intervention and is extremely useful to the countries that have adopted the revenue authority model for revenue administration. Two key benefits of the seminar is the sharing of good practice and also the establishing of a much needed informal communication network for revenue authority boards in Africa. I’m thankful to ATAF and the IMF for this initiative which is a first on the continent,” said Mr. Ambrose Dlamini.
The IMF says that semi-autonomous revenue authorities are now the norm in many Anglophone African countries and interest in this organizational and governance model is growing elsewhere in Africa and beyond.
It believes that although variations of the model exist, some common characteristics include separate human resource policies and procedures from regular government departments and strategic oversight by a board, typically with a mix of private and public sector representation.
The IMF says that the aim of the seminar was to facilitate the exchange of experiences and views on the emerging tax governance across the key strategic leaders in countries that have introduced, or are contemplating a revenue authority.
Other objectives covered by the seminar were:
• To provide basic information on legal frameworks and statistics pertaining to revenue authorities and their boards from recent research, as well as data gathered from the Revenue Administration’s – Fiscal Information Tool, an initiative of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department to gather key revenue administration data from member countries to establish a core set of performance indicators for improved cross-country comparisons and benchmarking
• To review current issues in board governance
• To provide a platform for discussion and sharing of country experiences with a view to improving governance of revenue administration in African countries with semi-autonomous revenue authorities
• To identify subject areas where further research would be useful
• To establish an informal communication network for Revenue Authority boards in Africa.
“This seminar may be replicated in future in response to growing interest in establishing Revenue Authorities in Francophone African countries and elsewhere” says the IMF.