The use of cargo clearance technology by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has helped the taxman plug revenue collection gaps at the borders in the wake of increasing pressure by the new administration to seal leakages.
Stringent border control measures between Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia have also led to a decline in tax evasion, increasing revenue collection for the authority’s Southern region which covers the coastal counties of Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Tana River and Taita Taveta.
The KRA Southern Region co-ordinator Joseph Tonui says the agency has surpassed its revenue targets in the last six months by Sh3 billion in terms of tax collection.
“For the last six months, we collected Sh267 billion. This is both for customs and domestic taxes. The target was Sh264 billion. We achieved 101 percent with a surplus of Sh3 billion,” he explained.
Mr Tonui said the authority will soon use drones in mobile monitoring of goods to curb theft and tax evasion.
Already, some staff have been trained to be drone pilots for the task. For instance, he said, the monthly auctions are going to be digitised to increase fairness.
“We want to reduce cases of human intervention by digitising the auction and making it online. This is a work in progress,” he said.
He added that this was due to strategies that the authority has applied, including using a digital system to track, monitor and collect revenue.
The rollout of the new customs systems, the Integrated Customs Management Unit (iCMS), at the port of Mombasa is almost complete.
The iCMS is a web-based system that has been in operation for the past two years and has aided customs to boost the collection of taxes.
The new system that replaced the Simba system is in full use for air and sea cargo as well as in the clearance of goods of the Lungalunga, Taveta/Holili One Stop Border stops (OSPBs).
The KRA has been piloting the iCMS system in phases at the port since 2019, starting with the clearing of motor vehicles, bulk cargo and export cargo.
“There are quite many strategies that we have been able to employ. Basically, the use of the iCMS system is faster and our systems are fairly stable and the downtimes have come down,” Mr Tonui explained.
Over the period, the digital system has stabilised hence improving the efficiency of cargo clearance, the official said.
The new system has interactive capabilities that eliminate redundant processes and has manual processes in the Simba System.
In the iCMS, traders are required to submit sea manifests for both imports and exports 48 hours before a vessel arrives or departs.
Mr Tonui added that the compliance levels have increased because of the use of scanners where all the containers are assessed through the port of Mombasa.
“These tools are making us get our targets, including having staff who are detecting anyone that is not compliant. We have a valuation section and enforcement teams as well as intelligence teams who can detect any consignment that does not meet any standards,” he said.
The regional boss also said the KRA is working under a multiagency framework and exchanges information to improve revenue collection.
The taxman has not experienced any challenges in terms of leakages in the iCMS system.
“We have our ICT team and for any intrusion that happens they are able to put up firewalls and we have not reported any incident that can have a direct impact on revenue collection,” he said.
Mr Tonui said the KRA was still struggling to run the OSBPs on the Coast amid a tight budget from the government.
“These stations operate for 24 hours. However, we do not have adequate staff and those who are there are working fairly long hours to ensure we achieve our objectives.”
Mr Tonui, however, said the authority is keen on digitising more services and activities that will ensure there are smooth operations without physical human interactions.
He said it is in line with digitalising all the programmes, which will increase fairness in the auction and reduce instances of human intervention.
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