The search for a new commissioner general at Uganda Revenue Authority has begun, after the job was advertised internally.
The Shs-28-million-a-month job became available last month, after Allen Catherine Kagina announced that she would quit in October. Kick-starting the search for Kagina's successor, Theodora Twongyeirwe, who takes care of staff affairs on the URA board, wrote an internal memo to all staff, informing suitable candidates to apply.
"The board sitting at its 254th ordinary board meeting on 1st August 2014 directed that the position be advertised internally effective today, 4th August 2014," she wrote.
"Accordingly, applications are invited from suitable candidates to fill the position of Commissioner General. Please note that appointments to this position will be effective 1st November 2014."
Twongyeirwe's email was accompanied by an attachment containing the qualities of a potential URA commissioner general. It said that one must be not more than 50 years of age at the time of the announcement, and should have served as assistant commissioner at URA for at least three years.
"The commissioner general shall be the chief executive of the authority and shall be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the authority, the management of funds, property and business of the authority and for the administration, organisation and control of the other officers and staff of the authority," the memo said in part.
Given the stated requirements for the job, the race for the lucrative job is likely to be among URA's six commissioners. These are: Doris Akol (legal services and board affairs), Richard Kamajugo (customs), Henry Saka (domestic taxes), Michael Otonga (corporate services), Protazio Begumisa (internal audit and compliance), and Patrick Mukiibi (tax compliance).
Sources have told The Observer that the early favourites for the job are Akol, Kamajugo and Mukiibi, all of who boast at least a decade's experience with the tax body. URA also employs 21 assistant commissioners in its six departments. They are all eligible, should the board decide to look beyond its six top contenders.
The criteria for selecting the new URA chief, as announced by the board, effectively lock out KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi, who had been rumoured to be a front-runner. Musisi, who has won plaudits for her performance at the helm of Kampala city so far, previously served as a commissioner for legal services and board affairs at URA.
The outgoing URA boss, who served at the helm of the tax body for 10 years, told Parliament on July 23 that she would not apply for renewal of her current contract when it expires in October. Kagina, 53, said she would go into private business, although she is tipped to take up another government posting in the oil sector.
Kagina is credited with growing revenue collections by 317.5 per cent from Shs 1.9 trillion in 2004 to Shs 8.03 trillion in the financial year ending June 2014. That performance helped to raise the tax contribution to the budget from 58.7 per cent in 2004 to 71.5 per cent of the country's resource envelope this year.
However, in latter years, Kagina and her team had to grit their teeth to meet their annual targets due to the global economic meltdown and other challenges. Analysts say whoever replaces Kagina will have their work cut out as the country continues to fend off the ripple effects of the financial crisis that has seen profits for leading taxpayers such as banks reduce.
Some taxpayers have said the board should have avoided suspicion by handing over the role of selecting a new commissioner general to an independent agency.
"The URA board should step aside and hand over the exercise of recruiting the CG to a neutral body such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or Public Service Commission," said Jjemba Kanakulya Mulondo, an executive at Kampala City Traders' Association (Kacita).
He expressed fear that the board might be fronting a particular individual. "Otherwise, why would you put a condition that someone should have served as assistant commissioner for at least three years?" Mulondo says.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Sarah Banage, URA's assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs, said there was nothing irregular about internal advertisement, before advising us to talk to the board chairman. The Chairman, Gerald Sendaula said yesterday that the authority never publicly advertises jobs for senior managers. It only advertises graduate trainee jobs.
"When you leave university, you apply to join URA. That is when you start a long journey where the sky is the limit, up to the rank of commissioner general," Sendaula said.
"When people join us, we train them because this is a specialised profession. We have enough people we have trained who can take over this job.
"I am not going to pick old men. We have had experiences where people have been imposed on URA and the whole thing was in a mess."