Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Government Must Support Talent and Innovation

analysis

As we continue with this year's tax payers week, It is important to evaluate where we have come from as a country, Taxpayers' Week, whose climax will be marked by an event officiated by his Excellency the President should not only celebrate tax collection, but also talent and innovation that makes that collection easier, secure and better.

I have no doubt that KRA is proud and encourages our fellow countrymen to pay taxes in line with Authority's mantra - Kulipa Kodi ni Kujitegemea (Paying Taxes is the Road to National Self-sufficiency).

Beyond being self-sufficient as a working nation, we believe that only when we are able to fund our own projects shall we truly claim our national dignity, underwrite our sovereignty and unfailingly stand tall in the community of nations.

I have no doubt that, as a tax collection body, given the right support, KRA can indeed bankroll our national development programmes.

KRA recently received recognition by the Inter-American Centre for Tax Administration for introducing the Geospatial Revenue Collection Information System (GEOCRIS).

Also known as the Centro Interamericano de Administraciones Tributarias (CIAT) this intercontinental body recognised Kenya and KRA at its 46th General Assembly, held in Santiago, Chile, alongside Brazil (a member of the BRICS group of newly-advanced nations) and Argentina.

This is what should worry everybody including your Excellency the President. GEOCRIS was developed by Samson Ngengi Njuguna, a KRA employee, Personal Number 8491, who was duly employed on 22nd December 2011, having successfully completed Tax Administration Training at KRATI.

Young Mr Njuguna is employed in the Domestic Revenue Department (DR).

GEOCRIS was developed specifically for enhancement of Rental Income Tax collection nationwide in this country.

This matter has been in public domain because I also got to learn about it in the media.

However, on 3rd March 2012, Mr Njuguna received an email from an external system developer confirming that one KRA officer had shared the GEOCRIS System Demo with a view to further development of the same. This information was passed to a horrified Mr Njuguna as a fait accompli, a coup.

The onward sharing of this system was done without the original developer's permission or that of KRA.

This is a clear and nefarious infringement of the Innovation against the Industrial Property Act, Section 109, as well as the KRA Code of Conduct Sections 6.2.1.1, 6.2.1.2 and 6.2.6.3.

It is daylight Intellectual Property theft.

The Jubilee Coalition's quest to empower the youth and accord them the strategic opportunities to reap from their talents, skills, training and other potentialities has a perfect and instructive platform in the case of Mr Njuguna and his strategic innovation.

Your Excellency the president, KRA is the revenue engine room of the State sector. It needs strong and decisive and principled leadership as well as innovation and respect for intellectual property, the better to incubate and develop Made-in-Kenya innovativeness.

Above all, KRA needs proven performers who get results in a tough economy.

KRA needs to constantly increase revenue collection and at the same time eliminate excessive costs. No other entity in the State sector needs to accelerate performance reporting as urgently as the engine room of revenue collection itself.

We are confident of consistently delivering results, adding to KRA's exceptional reputation for exceeding targets and expectations.

As a senior trade unionist with years of experience, I unreservedly commend and defend Mr Njuguna and his remarkable innovation.

Implementing hands-on strategies and home-grown solutions is the way to go in all sectors.

When KRA is presented with the opportunity of developing strategic programmes that increase and ease revenue collection and add value, they must be seized, incubated, nurtured and developed to their full potentiality.

I wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to explore this inventive and creative and patriotic young man's very considerable potentialities to KRA and its revenue collection, which is the working nation's bottom line.

I think it is immoral not to recognize our own talent, protect intellectual property and use products of our very own to create home-made solutions that will work for us.

Mr President, I believe the best way to honour this talent is to appreciate and recognize it.

If this intellectual property hijack is allowed to stand, I have little doubt that the next thing we shall hear is that some foreigner somewhere in this fast-moving digital world of today is patenting a Kenyan idea not for a billion shillings but for a billion dollars.

Rescuing Mr Njuguna and GEOCRIS will send all the right digital signals and messages about rewarding hard work, talent, skill, innovation and patriotic duty.

I beseech you, Your Excellency, Sir, in God's name and in the name of the Republic, the KRA and our Union, to intervene powerfully on behalf of Mr Njuguna and his innovation.

(Moturi, an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, is the Interim Secretary General KRA Employees Union)

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