By Erick Ludeya
Nairobi County could soon have its own taxman similar to the Kenya Revenue Authority if a new bill pushing for the establishment of Nairobi City County Revenue Authority is approved by the county assembly.
The Nairobi City County Revenue Administration bill, 2019 that has already undergone the first reading at the assembly advocates for the appointment of the County Revenue Administrator who shall be competitively recruited by the County Public Service Board.
The bill authored by Finance, Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Robert Mbatia will see a break from the current revenue collection model where the authority will fully be empowered to collect revenue on behalf of the county.
Apart from collecting, receiving and accounting for revenue on behalf of the county in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act, the authority will also administer and enforce laws to ensure all monies collected are paid into the County Revenue Fund.
The County Revenue Fund is the account held by Cooperative Bank where all revenue collected is banked before being swept straight to the national treasury.
Other key functions of the authority will include; assessing revenue payable to the county where applicable, advising the Finance executive Committee member on all matters relating to administration and enforcement of revenue laws and ensuring optimum compliance is achieved.
The Authority will however work under the directions of the Finance CEC to achieve its targets.
According to Mbatia, the bill will ensure all the inadequacies and capacity challenges that have led to low revenue collections are solved.
“We want to seal the loopholes the sector and make revenue collection a serious issue in the county,” Mbatia said on Monday during a public participation forum on the bill at Charter Hall.
The authority will have a Board of Directors which shall serve as its governing body and will consist of a non-executive chairperson appointed by the Governor with the approval of the County Assembly.
The board will also consist of the finance chief officer, four other persons appointed by the finance executive, a member from special interest groups and the county Revenue Administrator who shall be an ex officio member.
The term of office of all members of board shall be three years but subject to renewal once.
The County Revenue Administrator shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority subject to the general supervision and control of the finance CEC.
To ensure that the authority is held accountable and meets its targets, the bill proposes that it gives quarterly reports on its operations, annual reports on collection of revenue and all matters related to it.
However, the bill may face approval challenges, because it proposes the closure of the current revenue office that is headed Almasi Ekaya.
While the executive may be at liberty of absorb the current revenue officers into the authority, their job security concerns have been raised.
But Mbatia said that there should be no course for alarm and that no current employee will lose their jobs.
“The current officers will be given priority and no one will lose their job because our intention is to raise revenue collections and not to create unemployment.” Mbatia told Journalists at City Hall.
The county has been struggling to meet its revenue targets and according to Utawala MCA Patric Karani,its only through adoption of the bill that more can be achieved.
“In the current financial year we have a deficit of Sh7 billion and next year we could have a deficit of Sh 5billion and this means we should be working on how to reduce it,” he said.
The bill will go through the second reading process once the assembly resumes early next month.