The South Sudan National Revenue Authority is threatening to publicly shame government and bank officials who steal tax revenue.
The Authority said it collected more than $9 million in February 2019 compared to $4.7 million dollars the month before, but Authority Commissioner Olympio Attipoe says a few, corrupt tax officials are still steering a significant amount of money into their private accounts.
He said the tax body will soon publicly announce their names.
Last month the revenue authority said it collected more than a billion pounds and $4 million after creating a block account to improve non-oil revenue collection.
Attipoe told reporters in Juba Tuesday that while revenue collection is up, the tax body’s local currency collection fell from 1.2 million pounds in January to 1.1 million pounds in February. Attipoe said that is due in no small part to tax evasion.
“In February we had $9.1 million as revenue collection but if you look at the statistics, the pounds have fallen and we have 1.1 billion pounds,” Attipoe told South Sudan in Focus.
He accused some tax officials of conspiring with certain commercial bank operators to divert tax revenue into private accounts.
“You are helping those people to divert money, you some of the banks are still doing that and we are aware but it is going to be very unfortunate for you if we get the documents and evidence we need and we hold a press conference because we are going to be naming and shaming,” said Atiipoe.
He advised corrupt bank officials to “Put your house in order because very soon we are going to crack the whip and no bank is going to be immune.”
And Attipoe had a few more pearls of wisdom for corrupt officials:
“If you want to be rich go and do smart business and get rich, you cannot be pocketing government money and be proud that you are rich.”
James Deng, Manager of the Kenya Commercial Bank in South Sudan, denies his bank helped corrupt officials steal tax money.
“At KCB South Sudan, we are very clear and only have the block account which is given to us by the government and it is the only one we are operating and we don’t have any account that we hide,” Deng told South Sudan in Focus.”
Attipoe said the tax body will soon introduce an electronic tracking system to stop those who are evading taxes on cargo that comes into the country.
“And that is only way we are going to reduce the diversion because we are talking about multi-purpose corruption activity. At times the cargo arrives in Mombasa and they claim they are destining for South Sudan so because they are transit goods, they will not pay duty there in Kenya, they disappear, meaning they are not destined for South Sudan,” said Attipoe.
Attipoe said the revenue authority will make sure the tax collection system in the country is transparent but warns that after the money is collected, it is up to South Sudanese citizens and their elected representatives to hold government officials accountable as to how that money is used.