Govt to leverage big data for customs management

Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is mulling over investing in big data analysis and management to improve revenue collection, facilitate trade as well as doing business in the country, officials at the revenue body have said.
Commissioner General RRA, Richard Tusabe, speaks at the event. Courtesy.
Commissioner General RRA, Richard Tusabe, speaks at the event. Courtesy.

Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is mulling over investing in big data analysis and management to improve revenue collection, facilitate trade as well as doing business in the country, officials at the revenue body have said.

The RRA Commissioner General, Richard Tusabe, said RRA has made commendable advancement in customs, revenue collection and trade facilitation, but noted that the institution was not doing well on data analysis.

 

“This is not only a challenge for the customs; it’s a challenge for the whole institution,” he said as RRA marked the World Customs Day.

 

Big data describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important.

 

It’s what organisations do with the data that matters, according to Statistical Analysis System (SAS), a software suite developed by SAS Institute for advanced analytics developed at North Carolina State University from 1966 until 1976.

World Customs Day was marked, worldwide, under the theme “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management.

By choosing this slogan, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) said that it dedicates 2017 to promoting data analysis.

According to WCO, collecting and analyzing data is a sector that is becoming a key element in customs modernisation.

Tusabe said that RRA has resolved to invest in Business Intelligence (BI) in line with the effort to make the most of the data.

BI is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyse an organisation’s raw data. The discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.

“There are two things that we could do; one is getting the necessary tools in terms of intelligence systems as well as the skills set,” Tusabe pointed out.

He said that there was need for personnel with capabilities “to interrogate and play with big data and get the results that we want.”

Speaking during the same event, the Commissioner for customs at RRA, Raphael Tugirumuremyi, said that customs has a substantial amount of data at its disposal beginning with data submitted by clearing agent, data shared from other government agents, commercially available data, as well as other open sources of information.

He said that effective data analysis and management will allow the revenue authority to know business people who comply with rules and have trusted records so they get rewarded, but also investigate those who have questionable records, especially those in red.

He said that they want to work with other government institutions such as the Migration and Immigration Directorate and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on making use of data on people who come in the country to facilitate trade and ensure security at the borders.

“If a businessperson has imported goods worth Rwf6 billion in the country, and that person has made about 15,000 declarations and has not committed any mistake; what does such data mean?  It means that the business person is honest and needs a reward such as allowing their goods in without delay,” he said.

By trying to analyse the available data, he said, they categorised business people in four common ranges of goods clearance including blue channel which are in range of 30 per cent; yellow 21 per cent; red 30 per cent and green 19 per cent.

“Our target is to decrease the per centage of red [channel] because it is demanding resources and we have now to see how all of our clearance processes can go through the green channel,” he said.

Fred Seka, chairman of Rwanda Freight Forwarders’ Association (RWAFFA), said that “When a customs agent delays in analysing data, it also delays the importer or exporter’s business.”

He said they want all business people to move up from red to green channel because the graduation will make their business run faster as they will have trusted records.

In 2015/16 fiscal year, RRA collected revenue amounting to Rwf986.7 billion, surpassing its target of Rwf37.5 billion.

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