BUJUMBURA January 12th (ABP) – The Head of State, Mr. Evariste Ndayishimiye, recommended the digitalization of the collection of public revenue, at the end of the government retreat, held from January 4 to 5, 2022 at Ntare Rushatsi House, in Bujumbura. That retreat was part of the continuation and closure of the one held in Gitega from November 3-4, 2021.
Two key themes were on the agenda, namely budgetary decentralization in Burundi and the digitization of public revenue collection, according to a statement from the general secretariat of the government.
Regarding the digitization of public revenue collection, the Minister of Finance recalled the definition of the state budget, which essentially consists of two components, namely revenue and expenditure.
He showed that budget management is a game of balancing inputs and outputs. He then showed the components of public revenue and their destination. These components are: social contributions, non-tax revenues, taxes and duties.
He also presented the current situation of revenue collection, some of the consequences of that situation, and clarified what to do to rectify the situation.
A major reform of public finance management must be initiated. One of the pillars of that proposed reform, which will involve working on the other pillars, including legal reforms, human resources and tools, is the digitization of public finances, which is one of the phases of the digitization of public services.
He further recalled the objectives of the computerization of public revenue collection, the benefits of digitizing revenue collection and made a proposal for a new revenue collection architecture.
He ended his presentation by specifying the state of the digitalization of revenue collection in various taxing services (OBR, EPA, APE, local authorities and other services). He showed that the gains from the digitization of public services are no longer to be discussed.
It is an ongoing process, always subject to changes driven by technology. He ended by calling for the establishment of an inter-ministerial commission to develop a unified strategy for the digitalization of public revenue collection.
That was accepted and this commission is made up of the ministries of finance, ICT, and the interior.
As challenges, members of the government noted the non-harmonized legal framework on exemptions, the non-collection of professional income tax (IPR) from Burundian officials working abroad, little funding in the field of digitization, the non-involvement of the private sector in the purchase of machines for invoicing, reluctance / resistance to digitization by some people for their personal interests, loss of revenue on IPRs, lack of transparency and traceability in collection and revenue management in certain sectors such as personalized state administrations (APE), public administrative establishments (EPA), local authorities (CL) and others, failure to control revenue collection in certain areas such as mobile phone companies, …
As possible solutions, they proposed to update and harmonize the legal framework on exemptions, to evaluate and regulate them, to set up a team to assess the issue of exemptions, if the exemptions are profitable / beneficial, to involve the private sector in investing for the digitization sector, seek substantial funding for digitization, make digitization a priority and implement it in a modular fashion, be vigilant in the digitalization process to avoid charlatans, crooks and avoid interference, ensure transparency and traceability in the management of exemptions, monitor telecommunications companies, especially mobile ones in their invoicing and consider agreements with foreign countries in the collection of the IPR of Burundians working abroad while avoiding double taxation.
After analyzing those two themes, the Head of State invited the ministers to study the code of ethics and professional conduct for the public service, as well as the supplier’s code of conduct, which will highlight the government commitments and supplier commitments in public procurement.