Bujumbura, Burundi – June 17, 2013
The United States gave TradeMark Africa ( TMA ) nearly one million dollars on Monday to help Burundi’s trailblazing tax collection agency (OBR) publicize its work and educate the taxpayers better on procedures and tariffs. The program also seeks to explain the link between tax revenue and development. “We want to sensitize our citizens on what improved tax collection will mean to them, either through improved health facilities, better schools or world-class highways that facilitate increased trade and prosperity for Burundi,” said Kieran Holmes, Commissioner General of the Office Burundais des Recettes tax agency. The $923,000 was given by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at a ceremony led by the U.S. Ambassador to Burundi Dawn Liberi; David Stanton, Deputy CEO of TradeMark Africa (TMA) ; and Finance Minister Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza. “Tax collecting is never popular, but democracies need fair and equitable tax systems to function,” said Ambassador Liberi. “Citizens must understand that the two are connected. This program will help Burundians better understand that a transparent and effective tax collection system is necessary for the country to continue moving ahead.” Burundi’s tax revenues have doubled since the OBR carried out a root and branch overhaul of the country’s tax, customs and revenue offices and has attracted widespread interest from other African states keen to match their development plans against higher revenue streams. “Improved tax collections show that Burundians are paying their taxes and this is already reaping significant benefits socially,” said Holmes. With this tax money around 40 health centers have been built with government revenue from taxation. This means an additional 40,000 people can access lifesaving treatment and medicines,” .

USAID grant to back tax revolution

The public outreach campaign will focus on three primary areas:

  1. General education on the new tax procedures and services available to tax payers.
  2. Anti-corruption messages with support to a call center for the public to access information and to report cases of corruption for investigation.
  3. Dissemination of information on the government’s wider reform agenda including improvements to the business regulatory environment, examples of the use of tax revenues for the public good, and Burundi’s role in and benefits from being a member state of the East African Community (EAC).

Finance Minister Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza said tax reform has helped create a transparent and equitable environment for foreign investment. “Along the way we have created a level playing field for businesses, so that investors are interested in coming in now,” said Manirakiza. “They know that all enterprises pay tax and that no one has an unfair advantage. It’s created a much more attractive business environment.”. TradeMark Africa (TMA)’s Stanton said: “OBR is TradeMark Africa (TMA)’s main project in Burundi. The very significant increase in tax collections in the past two years is testament to the improved political stability and interest from investors. In the past year Burundi has also been named one of the top 10 reforming countries in the world by (the World Bank’s) Ease of Doing Business report. This is a good indication that the country is intent on moving forward to prosperity.” TradeMark Africa (TMA), supported in Burundi mainly by the Belgian and the British Government, is working to increase intra-regional trade by 25 percent and exports to the rest of the world by 10 percent by 2016. Much of this progress is expected to come from 15 percent lower transit time and trade costs. East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, though trade continues to be hampered by tariff as well as non-tariff barriers, including over-stretched ports and time-consuming customs and border operations. Once an individual or business is in the OBR system, he, she or it becomes a reliable source of revenue on which the government can make its plans to climb out of the league of Least Developed Countries. It is currently 185th out of 187 in that survey. USAID/Burundi works closely with the Government of Burundi and civil society to support programming that will help strengthen vital government institutions and prepare for successful elections. USAID also supports initiatives to stimulate economic growth and larger programs to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria and improve maternal and child health and promote family planning and reproductive health.

Source: TradeMark Africa(TMA)


TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.