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Gulu City Traders Ignorant About Digital Revenue Collection System

Alex Otema, the Chairman of Keyo Road Business Community told URN in an interview that they were told about the digital revenue collection system last year during registration for local service tax. He says that no one has sensitized them ever since then on how the system works, something leading to tax evasion.
Gulu City Council Sign post -Photo by Jesse Johnson James

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The business community in Gulu City is still ignorant about the Integrated Revenue Administration System –IRAS that was introduced in September last year. IRAS is a web and mobile-based application, which aids the registration, assessment, billing, and payment of taxpayers. It creates a direct link between the taxpayers and the City Council.

It was introduced to replace the physical revenue collection method, which was marred by revenue leakage leading to poor revenue collection. However, the traders complain that ever since the introduction of the Integrated Revenue Administration System, the council authorities have failed to sensitize them.

Alex Otema, the Chairman of Keyo Road Business Community told URN in an interview that they were told about the digital revenue collection system last year during registration for local service tax. He says that no one has sensitized them ever since then on how the system works, something leading to tax evasion.

According to Otema, the traders need to understand the nitty-gritty of the digital system like the expiry of the date for the payment reference number –PRN issued to them upon assessment and issuance of demand notes, among other things. 

He appealed to the Gulu City Council to carry out massive sensitization and mobilization of all the traders if they want to boost local revenue collection. Lucy Alum, a vendor at Gulu Main Market revealed that much as the system is corruption-free, it might not register much success due to a lack of deeper knowledge about it by the traders.

//Cue in: “Pe gititi wan…    

Cue out …pwony ki dano,” //

Christine Ayoo, a fresh fish dealer at Gulu Main Market, says that the IRAS came with other unexplained charges, something raising concern among traders who feel being cheated. Ayoo revealed that under the IRAS, the vendors were told to begin paying a monthly fee of Shillings 45,000 from the Shillings 10,000 they used to pay to the council. 

// Cue in: “Ci pe otero…

Cue out …culu alip apar,” //

It is not only the traders who are complaining about a lack of knowledge on the digital revenue collection system but local leaders at various levels as well. Vanessa Anyango, the Female Youth Councilor for Pece –Laroo Division in Gulu City, says that due to a lack of knowledge about IRAS, she is unable to go and mobilize the community to embrace the system. 

She appealed to the City Council to educate all the stakeholders on how IRAS works. Geoffrey Oyoo, the Senior Finance Officer of Gulu City, says that before and after enrolling on the Integrated Revenue Administration System, they sensitized the community using the media and other platforms, adding that they also have plans to resume the sensitization exercise soon.

IRAS was developed with support from the World Bank through PPIAF Trust Fund. It was first piloted in Nansana, Fort Portal, and Gulu City. Currently, it is operational in Nansana, Fort Portal, Gulu City, Amuria, Yumbe, Zombo and Adjumani.