Uganda Revenue Authority have dismissed reports that they are responsible for a whistle-blower who lost his job over naming 4 companies dealing in cars that were evading taxes, and that they (URA) had connived with the companies to frustrate the investigation.
The four companies are Crane Enterprises Ltd, Kampala Properties Ltd, East African Motor Supplies Ltd and Auto Tune and Engineering Ltd.
According to a statement by the whistle-blower that was recently published by a local blog, he claims that ever since he blew the tax evaders’ cover in 2015, he has faced hardships, including losing a job, being mistreated by URA staffers, and he had also failed to get attention from the Commissioner General URA, Doris Akol.
He was working with East African Motor Supplies Ltd, and he says through some URA officials, his bosses came to know that he reported them for tax evasion, and they fired him.
Following a series of delayed follow-up on his case, the whistle-blower petitioned the president, IGG Irene Mulyagonja, COSASE Chairman Abdul Katuntu and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija calling on them to intervene to get the URA officials take his complaint more seriously.
However in a Thursday statement Acting Assistant Commissioner Public & Corporate Affairs, URA Ian Rumanyika says they have “a streamlined process in place called the Informer Management and Rewards Policy (IMRP) intended to help such clients” and the whistle-blower never followed it.
Through IMRP, says Rumanyika, submitted information is scrutinised to ensure it is specific, relevant and reliable to be used in an audit or investigation.
“We also have a mechanism to protect the identity of the Informer and track accountability of the information submitted,” he adds.
According to Rumanyika’s statement, the information the whistle-blower submitted in 2015 was not detailed enough for the URA investigative team to do a thorough and conclusive investigation.
“Whereas the informer complains of the unnecessary delays, it should be noted that his initial submissions to URA did not meet the minimum standard for Investigations since most of it was not specific to the exact tax violations and efforts to obtain additional information from him were futile as the phone number that he provided was unreachable,” reads the statement.
“Progress was only made after he resurfaced and put his allegations in writing on 23rd May 2016. At the time, he had submitted information on other three related companies, making a total of four companies. Only information on two of the companies was sufficient to issue him the Tax evaders Information Form (TIF) and he was required to avail additional information on the remaining two.”
It continues: “The investigations were therefore progressed in line with the departmental guidelines on these two as we awaited additional information on the remaining companies, whose TIFs were issued much later after the team had gathered additional information.”
On the issue of having the whistle-blower’s name known, the statement indicates that “this particular informer has engaged himself in revealing his identity and information to the public and this affects investigations.”
URA is required by law to protect identities of whistle-blowers.
On the issue of connivance, the statement indicates that if any member of their staff is mentioned in such a plot, they should be brought forward for punishment.
“We further wish to clarify that there has been no connivance between the investigators and the taxpayers, this is not true as alleged by the informer. The investigations are in advanced stages and have been conducted in line with the laid down procedures amidst scanty information that had to be solicited from third parties from within the country and beyond,” further reads the statement.
“However, should the informer or any member of the public produce evidence to prove any unbecoming behavior by any of our staff, they should report to our Internal Audit and Compliance Department and the necessary disciplinary measures will be undertaken.”