19th January 2020
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Kiir’s office acknowledges dismissal of NRA boss amid criticism

Author: Joakino Francis | Published: 5 months ago

File: Former South Sudan National Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Dr. Olympio Attipoe

The office of the President has confirmed that it is aware of the dismissal of the National Revenue Commission’s boss by the Minister of Finance.

Salvatore Garang fired Dr. Olympio Attipoe over the weekend over unexplained reasons.

In a Ministerial order seen by Eye Radio, Mr. Garang appointed Attipoe’s deputy to take charge as acting Commissioner-General.

The act angered members of the public who questioned where the minister derived the powers to terminate the services of an appointee of the President.

The Ghanaian national was appointed by President Salva Kiir last year through an agreement with the African Development Bank.

Members of the public believe only the President can dismiss Attipoe since his appointment was made through special arrangements with a continental bank.

Others read mischiefs in the act of the minister.

Ben Francis said, “they want loose systems where there are loopholes for them to steal government money.”

Attipoe was charged with reforming the non-oil revenue collection sector, including assessing, collecting, administrating and enforcing laws relating to taxation and revenues.

He helped set up a Single Treasury Account -to ensure revenues collected are wired into the government coffers and not into individual pockets.

He also cancelled several tax exemptions that were approved through senior government officials, including a recent one from the Minister in the Office of the President.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Attipoe distanced himself from what appears to be a fraudulent business scheme engineered by the chairman of the Traders’ Union and backed by senior government officials.

Businessman Ayii Duang secured what some government institutions called “Letter of no Rejection” approval to register both foreign and local traders in the country.

Ayii had said the Office of the President gave him a green light to screen traders – a project that would him raise tens of millions of US dollars.

He was vehemently opposed by the Deputy Mayor of the Juba City Council, Thiik Thiik Mayardit, who also got backing from the head of the National Revenue Authority.

“The Trader’s Union cannot represent the government to collect taxes from the traders on behalf of the government,” Dr. Olympio Attipoe, NRA commissioner-general stated.

Some listeners believe these to be some of the reasons that led to the untimely dismissal of the NRA boss.

But Viola Gaba detested the manner to which he was removed saying it is a “big shame” for the Finance Minister to fire someone appointed by the President, yet he [Salvatore] is junior to the President.

Kuol A. Kuol for his part said, “This is it! [Attipoe] was appointed by the President [but] fired by the Minister of Finance “simply because he didn’t allow conmen to continue collecting taxes for themselves at the expense of the poor South Sudanese.”

“My country is bleeding,” he added.

Late last year, Attipoe complaint about threats and pressure he was receiving from senior government officials who he said were not happy with his reform agenda that includes accountability and transparency in the sector.

His dismissal backdated to Friday, August 23, caught many by surprise, including Dr Attipoe who confirmed to Eye Radio the authenticity of the Ministerial Order.

Some listeners of Eye Radio questioned the silence of the President on the matter.

“How comes the President is quite? [Does it mean] he is behind all this mess?” Jimmy Kaduma asked.

He said the move will likely strengthen the skepticism of donors in providing the much-needed resources for the implementation of the peace agreement.

The government has for months called on the international community to financially support the implementation of the pre-transitional arrangement such as; cantonment, training and deployment of necessary security forces before the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in November this year.

But the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway, who are the largest development partners for South Sudan have raised concerns over what they see is the inability of the government to manage funds in a transparent and accountable manner.

“I’m sure he [Kiir] indirectly ordered for the dismissal of this man [Attipoe]…donors must withdraw all support they are giving to South Sudan,” Kaduma concluded.

Speaking to Eye Radio on Monday, the Press Secretary in the Office of President, Ateny Wek Ateny said the State House is aware of the content of the letter of dismissal.

“I am confirming the fact that the Minister of Finance has issued an order dismissing the Commissioner-General,” Ateny said.

“We are aware. We know that the Minister of Finance has a prerogative over the dismissal of the Commissioner-General,” he asserted.

Last week, Olympio Attipoe announced plans to review the Taxation Bill 2009, with a new Taxation Act 2019.

The new bill would include streamlining the type of taxes at the national and state levels.

In January and February this year alone, the revenue authority announced the collection of 1 billion South Sudanese pounds and another $9.1 million in non-oil revenue.

Also in March, the body collected 1.2 billion Pounds and $4.7 million, while in July alone, it collected $5 million and another 1.5 billion South Sudanese Pounds.

Sr. Achiek, a Public Health Officer at Clarke International University said, “the sacking of Dr. Olympio is a wakeup call for all South Sudanese that our big fishes are against reform agenda.”

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