Senators want broad consultation on taxation

President of the Senate, Bernard Makuza chairs a session at the senate recently. (Craish Bahizi)

Senators have resolved to invite officials from the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and other government institutions, including ministries, as well as business leaders to a consultative meeting on key challenges that undermine tax collection.

They made the decision Wednesday after hearing from members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, who indicated that thorough multisectoral discussions are needed to maximise efforts to collect more taxes if the country is to achieve its self-reliance targets.

It was not immediately clear when the meeting will be held.

They noted that some traders are reluctant to use electronic billing machines (EBMs) for proper recording of their transactions as well as laxity among citizens in paying land related taxes.

The MPs said there was need to explore more avenues to broaden the tax base and achieve efficient tax administration.

“Recommendations from such a broad consultative meeting on tax issues would be a good contribution to the economy,” Senator Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo said.  

Senator Tito Rutaremara agreed, explaining that the sector-wide consultative meeting wouldn’t only look at RRA’s challenges in tax collection, but also explore other avenues for taxation.  

“We need to look at the tax base,” he said. “We need to consult with the planners at Minecofin (Ministry of Finance), RDB (Rwanda Development Board), and Minagri (Ministry of Agriculture) on the best way to grow economic base,” he said.  

Senator Jacquéline Muhongayire, who chairs the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, said that the latest move by the Government to make electronic billing compulsory for all businesses is a great one.

“The distribution of EBMs would end many excuses for not using this system,” she said.

Many senators described failure to use EBMs by some traders as a trick to dodge taxes.

“It is incumbent upon each and every citizen to ensure that traders provide invoices,” said Muhongayire, called on every resident of Rwanda to always ask for electronic invoices after buying goods.

Muhongayire, who earlier chaired discussions at the committee level with RRA officials on the challenges in taxation, commended the Government’s achievements in building strong tax systems over the last two decades.

“We are at a very interesting stage but we have more work to do,” she said.

The Government is increasingly relying on taxes to fund its annual budget.