By Calvine Oredi
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seems to have woken up from slumber and flexed its muscle in hotly pursuing tax evaders. The obvious trigger is the dry coffers at Treasury, compounded by the need to implement the Big 4 Development Agenda, as well as burgeoning public debt.
The Government has faced questions on its huge appetite for heavy borrowing which has been an easy but less-than-ideal route to meet the big budget deficit and meet its obligations as outlined in its current budget.
Already ministry’s, departments and agencies (MDAs) are reeling from the effects of the 50 percent budget cut directive by the CS Treasury.
In as much as that seems a good move to curtail government largesse on unnecessary expenses, the success of the directive will closely be watched by Kenyans. Previously, such directives have been ignored especially by mainstream government ministries. The flipside of it is that parastatals and Agencies with smaller budgets will be grounded to a halt since their core mandates will be adversely affected with direct effects on their day to day operations.
KRA nevertheless has a monumental task to meet its high target of tax collection. The aggressive campaign by KRA needs to be backed by other agencies in the criminal justice sector such as the Police, ODPP,EACC, Witness Protection Agency and the Judiciary. Collaborative efforts by those agencies will ensure that those found to be involved in tax evasion are brought to book.
The Witness Protection Agency (WPA) for instance can play a critical role in providing protection to witnesses willing to testify against tax cheats especially where their lives are at risk. The irony however is that the WPA is the least funded among the agencies in the criminal sector, yet its role in protecting witnesses is so huge which determines the success of criminal proceedings.
KRA needs to be lauded and supported because it has found the muscle to go for the ‘untouchables” such as senior politicians, corporate moguls, wealthy businessmen and women and even universities. This should be able to plug the shortfall of 25 billion that they failed to meet (up to June 2019) against a projection of Sh1.605 trillion.