This was during the 13th Tax Payers’ Day that was celebrated yesterday under the theme, “Promoting tax compliance: A collective responsibility”.
President Paul Kagame was the chief guest at the event which also attracted several government officials, including the Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi and the Minister of Finance, Claver Gatete, as well hundreds of leaders in private business.
The commissioner General of RRA, Ben Kagarama, said that the award winners were not necessarily the largest tax payers in 2013, but rather the most compliant in providing timely tax payments and adhering to tax procedures.
President Paul Kagame said that celebrating achievements of tax payers was important and serves Rwanda’s ambitions of being self reliant.
“We cannot rely on foreign aid forever. We are a population of 11 million people and those paying taxes are doing a good thing; however, there is still a large number of those who don’t,” Kagame said.
“If the national budget is to be fully supported by Rwandans, then we must find solutions to tax challenges. We must continue to create a good environment for all taxpayers and carry on sensitizing people on their role of contributing to the country’s development.”
Kagame added that government accountability was a key initiative that builds trust among taxpayers.
“We the leaders are voted into power and are even paid by the same people who vote us to lead them. If we misuse the funds they provide through taxes, then we lose their trust. But if we continue to handle and efficiently use our resources to bring about better services to the people, then our people will be motivated, be more than happy to pay taxes,” Kagame said.
He added that: “In the end, you cannot serve two masters at a go. We cannot serve the interests of those who give us aid and also serve the interest of Rwandans. If we work hard and ensure that our budget is fully funded by domestic resources, then we shall have only one master – our people.”
RRA set high targets
The Commissioner General of RRA, Ben Kagarama, said that the target is to collect Rwf795.7 billion in this fiscal year, from Rwf665.8 billion collected in last fiscal year between July 2012 and June2013.
“Tax procedures have been simplified and we now use technology to eliminate very many barriers that prevented the smooth payment of tax. Platforms such as the electronic billing machine, electronic single window and Mobile Declaration have helped to ease the collection of domestic taxes both domestically and at the border posts,” Kagarama said.
“What we need to do now is to work with our partners to continue sensitizing the people about these methods in order to facilitate those who are still using old fashioned methods of paying tax.”
Claver Gatete expressed optimism that once all legible taxpayers are brought into the tax net, Rwanda would fully fund its national budget.
“Much as tax collection figures have improved, there are a number of businesses that do not comply with the tax regime and are left out of the tax net. We are glad that many companies, as we celebrated today, are paving the way for commendable tax practices,” Gatete said.
“If we are resilient enough, Rwanda will able to satisfy its national budget needs in future years.”
About 60.2 per cent of the 2013/14 financial year Budge of Rwf1.5 trillion is financed by locally-raised funds.
Total revenue collection increased by five times in the last ten years, from Rwf68.4 billion in 1998, to Rwf344 billion in 2008.
Bank of Kigali was awarded as the most outstanding taxpayer of 2013; while Samuel Nduwumwe and Ephrem Nsabimana, were recognized for their hard work in promoting tax compliance in Gasabo and Nyamasheke districts respectively.
Those recognized as most tax compliant in the large taxpayer category include MTN Rwanda, I&M Bank, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency and Safintra Rwanda.
Entrepreneurs Bernard Gatwa Rutabana and Dr.Jean Nyirinkwaya were awarded in the medium taxpayers’ category, alongside, Ikirezi Natural Products Limited and UNILAK (Université Laïque Adventiste de Kigali).
In the small taxpayers’ category, Flexi Form Limited was awarded as most tax compliant, alongside APE Rugunga, African Evangelistic Enterprise and Carnegie Melon University.
RRA honours most compliant taxpayers