Africa’s top tax collectors head to Kampala for talksKateshumbwa (centre) said the conference will cover innovative solutions to policy challenges that face African countries concerning taxation.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will next week welcome nearly 500 delegates for the 4th International Conference on Tax in Africa (ICTA) between November 18th and 22 in Kampala under the auspices of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
“Africa has its unique tax challenges that need unique solutions. ATAF has been and is a good opportunity for all African countries to combine efforts and come up with a taxation system that favours them. With the current wave of digitalized economies, the conference will cover innovative solutions to policy challenges that face African countries,” acting URA Commissioner General, Dickson Kateshumbwa told a recent news conference in Kampala.
The event will also double as the 10th anniversary celebration for the ATAF, a platform that was launched in 2009 to champion the interests of African countries in the international tax arena. ATAF provides an African voice on tax matters on a global level and facilities peer learning and exchange.
The conference theme is ‘Innovations Digitalization and Harnessing Technology to Improve Tax Systems’. Since its launch in November 2009, ATAF has been involved in helping to strengthen revenue mobilisation and administration on the continent, tackling issues surrounding double taxation and transfer pricing among other challenges.
Kateshumbwa said, “ATAF has provided technical assistance and capacity building to member states through various committees such as cross-border taxation, VAT technical committee, legal counsel network and the exchange of information technical committee. It has also trained over 15,000 officials in international tax and several tax administration matters that have made tax agencies more efficient.”
According to the OECD the average tax-to-GDP ratio in the 21 African countries including Uganda and featured in Revenue Statistics in Africa 2018 was 18.2 pc in 2016. By comparison, the average tax-to-GDP ratio in the Latin America and Caribbean region was 22.7 pc and 34.0 pc in the OECD area in the same year. Uganda’s ratio is presently just over 14 pc.
More specifically, tax-to-GDP r pctios ranged from 7.6 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to 29.4% in Tunisia. Two-thirds of the countries had a ratio between 13 pc and 20 pc, and only six countries–Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia–had tax ratios greater than 20pc in 2016. Despite a lagging tax-to-GDP ratio compared to the OECD and Latin American averages, the good news is that tax revenues have increased sharply since 2000 in all countries in the report. Even during the slowdown in economic growth from 2015 to 2016, the average tax-to-GDP ratio of the 21 African countries remained unchanged.
The Pretoria-based ATAF, work directly focuses on two key areas: technical assistance and research which inform its broader representative role. Specifically, ATAF offers technical support and advisory services to Revenue Authorities through country-based programmes on domestic and international taxes and tax systems including audit, and administrative structures, and domestic and international tax policy, exchange of information etc. and carries out capacity building training.
Stella Nyapendi, the Country Representative for ATAF Uganda said the body is looking to cover 100 pc of all African countries and strengthen Africa’s bid to become notable power in global trade.
“Currently we have 38 member countries which is about 70 pc. We need 100% coverage so that Africa can have more effective tax systems and create increased opportunities for state building and enabling Africa to take control of its own destiny.”
“URA in particular has benefited a lot from ATAF in areas of legislation, executive matters on taxation, training and also participate in collaborative research on tax matters under the African Tax Research Network. The conference will be a good opportunity for Uganda to showcase what we are doing here in areas of taxation,” she said.
The upcoming event in Kampala is a climax of ATAF celebrations that have been happening across Africa. During the conference, ATAF leadership will symbolically provide a report to the President of Uganda on the mandate to improve revenue collections on the continent and make a commitment for the next 10 years, launch a members’ charter as well as give awards and recognition for different categories of key players in ATAF’s since its inception.