By Hilary Mare
FINANCE Minister Calle Schlettwein this week revealed part of a roll-out plan for the on-going reform to establish the Namibia Revenue Agency (NAMRA).
With NAMRA operations scheduled for 1 March 2019 and the NAMRA Act having been signed into law in December last year, Schlettwein highlighted that a task team has been entrusted with spearheading this reform and that next 11 months will be dedicated to transitional arrangements.
Currently, the expression of interest for the appointment of the NAMRA Board of Directors is advertised.
In line with this, Schlettwein told Finance Ministry Staff members that the next step will be the advertisement of the position of the Commissioner and, subsequently, those senior management of that institution.
“GIZ is providing us with technical and financial support to undertake some of the transitional activities. One of the next set of activities is the undertaking of the HR Skills Audit for all staff of IRD and Customs and Excise as well as the related support divisions. The search for the Skills Audit Agency is also advertised under GIZ technical support, with a local market outreach. No doubt, the skills audit will also look at ethical and disciplinary matters of all IRD and NCE staff,” he added.
He further went on to say that the next steps also entail IRD and Customs and Excise staff engagement and consultation by the Task Team.
“First, individual letters will be issued to all staff members of IRD and NCE, informing them of the envisaged reform. The letters will be sent out on Thursday this week.
“The Task Team will commence its regional roll-out to all staff, starting with the Windhoek-based staff next week, Tuesday, 29th May 2018, with the roll-out to other regions and work centres in the ensuing two weeks.
“This is an important institutional reform which we have all embraced. I call on the support of all the staff in this regard and to ensure that revenue collection, trade facilitation and border control remain robust during the transition period,” he further stated, he added that the Ministry is also engaged on overall Public Enterprises reforms to make sure that they are efficient.
This entails all public enterprises under the Ministry of Finance.
As regards to macro-fiscal policy, a fundamental basis of successful implementation of a pro-growth fiscal consolidation, Schlettwein noted that the ministry should regularly monitor developments in the economy and ensure that macroeconomic projections are timely and credible through effective stakeholder engagement and regular monitoring.
“We should get done with key financial sector legislative amendments this year. The legislation under Namfisa is due for tabling in the June 2018 session of Parliament. Policy strategy for the ongoing SACU negotiations is a yet another key policy deliverable as well as the overall strategy to regional guiding our regional integration agenda.
“The tabling of taxation proposals announced in the budget, both for Customs and Excise and domestic tax, are a critical milestone for the Revenue Management Programme, alongside the recovery of outstanding tax arrears and a visible tax collection effort to bring all potential taxpayers within the tax net. Improved revenue collection is necessary to fund the budget, avoid increased public debt uptake and reduce the budget deficit faster than anticipated.
“These measures are not least important for the Customs and Excise Department. Efficiency gains are a critical success factor for trade facilitation and gate keeping functions as it is through trade that economic activity is enabled. The enforcement function and collaboration with third parties is a function which needs urgent attention. A year ago, we had to get to grips with a fraudulent case of alleged trade misinvoicing through customs operation in Walvis Bay, involving billions of Namibia dollars and alleged complicity with customs officials. Of late, some customs Officials were nabbed in Walvis Bay for alleged theft and sale of a power generator,” explained Schlettwein.
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