29th October 2020
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NRA allegedly collected 2b pounds, $5.1m in August

Author: Emmanuel Akile | Published: Wednesday, September 23, 2020

National Revenue Authority office in Juba | Credit | African Development Bank

The former acting commissioner-general of the National Revenue Authority says the financial institution collected more than 2 billion pounds and $5 million in August alone.

“We managed to collect 2.1 billion SSP and 5.1 million USD, we collected that amount for the first time,” Bullen said during the handover ceremony on Tuesday.

“So, we have confidence that if we put things in order, we will collect more than that.”

Erjok attributed the alleged improvement of revenue collection to a security-enhanced financial receipt which NRA introduced in June 2020.

The receipt is meant to stop traffic police officers from diverting money collected from motorists.

The document, known as Form 15, is a collection of daily 50 receipts that have been authenticated by the revenue authority and the traffic police department.

“If those institutions that are collecting on behalf of the NRA were to remit those amounts to our office, then we will manage to pay our salaries. I’m confident we can do that,” he added.

However, it’s not clear what made Erjok Bullen make the revelations, yet immediately after assuming office last year, he stopped NRA from making public monthly collections, in violation of the laws.

He was fired last week on recommendation of the Economic Crisis Management Committee over mismanagement of non-oil revenues.

Established in 2018, the NRA is mandated to assess, collect, administrate and enforce laws relating to taxation and revenues.

The establishment is one of the measures to reduce dependency on oil revenues, strengthen non-oil revenue sector and strengthen expenditure control required to achieve short-term fiscal austerity objectives.

The Treasury Single Account, where all government revenues are collected, was opened and became operational in December 2018. Prior to this, taxpayers’ money used to be diverted into accounts that were opened and managed by some senior government officials.

The first commissioner-general of NRA was fired in August last year over alleged fraud, an allegation Dr. Olympio Attipoe denied.

During Attipoe’s time, $41 million and over 8 billion pounds was the total collection from the non-oil revenue between January 2019 and July 2019, which is equivalent to over $6.8 million and 1.33 billion pounds in monthly non-oil revenue collections, respectively.

In October 2019, the former acting NRA Boss, Erjok said the authority would no longer be announcing the monthly collections – claiming it was wrong in the first place, adding that the revenue authority had no power to do so.

But according to the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act 2011, all levels of government in South Sudan shall hold all income and revenue received in public accounts and subject to public scrutiny and accountability.

The Act also tasks the Ministry of Finance to make publicly available an annual report, including details of past, current, and projected fiscal activity, major fiscal risks, government debt, amongst other liabilities.

For his part, the Minister of Public Service and Human Resource Development says financial institutions in the country are the ones obstructing the monthly payment of the salaries of civil servants.

Joseph Bakasoro blamed this on poor management in the financial institutions.

“The minister of finance is going to have headache, not only from the public but from me, because I need you to pay the civil servants on time,” he told Athian Diing, the new finance minister.

Recently, President Salva Kiir told the public that senior officials had been pocketing the taxpayers’ money.

Corruption in South Sudan is said to be among the worst in the world.

The nation’s elites have developed a kleptocratic system that controls every part of South Sudanese economy, according to corruption reports, including the The Taking of South Sudan of The Sentry.

Before his dismissal, NRA Boss Dr. Attipoe threatened to name some senior government officials who were opposed to reforms.

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