*Best tax payers awarded
*RRA exceeds target
GICUMBI - President Paul Kagame yesterday called upon all Rwandans to stop looking at tax as a burden but rather a means of facilitating the country’s progress and economic growth.
While presiding over a ceremony to mark the 8th National Tax Payers Day held yesterday in Gicumbi District, Northern Province, President Kagame told thousands of people gathered at Gicumbi Stadium that revenues collected through taxes directly translate into economic growth and help finance the country’s development goals.
Kagame urged Gicumbi residents and Rwandans at large who are engaged in profitable income generating activities to develop the will to pay taxes and on time and each one of them to consider it as a service to the nation, but not a financial loss.
The President said that what matters is not the amount each individual pays but how many Rwandans are committed to paying their taxes.
He added that if all Rwandans obliged to the call to pay their taxes and on time, the country would then fulfil its ambition of slowly drifting away from aid dependency to become a self-sustainable economy and also fulfil long term development plans such as the EDPRS and Vision 2020.
He underscored the importance of the tax payer’s day, as day for not only recognising the importance of tax payers but also presents an annual opportunity to review where the country is in terms of revenue and expenditure and what the future presents.
President Kagame also awarded some of the best and most compliant tax payers in the country. He urged people to consider tax revenues as a river where water for domestic use is drawn, adding that the river has a source which needs to be well maintained to ensure a steady flow of clean water, or else there is a risk for the source to dry up and clean water supply to cease consequently.
He also called for more citizens to start Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) that engage in economic activities such as trade, industry and service delivery because it is only through this that economic goals can be achieved, adding that as Rwanda integrates into regional and continental blocs, there is not other shortcut to economic growth but competing favourably with other countries in the region.
In his speech, Finance Minister James Musoni commended tax payers who have for the last year contributed to the country’s economic growth that grew by 11.3 percent as well as Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) for surpassing its targets in 2008 and the first half of 2009. He equally thanked the private sector which is the largest tax payer.
Musoni said that in a bid to promote economic activities and SME’s growth in rural areas, the government dedicated 30 percent of the 2009/10 budget worth about Rwf 233.8bn to rural development.
He assured the Private Sector that the government is committed to remove all challenges faced by investors such as the certificate of origin which is a requirement in the EAC region, counterfeit products and bureaucracy.
The RRA Commissioner General Mary Baine pledged the tax body’s commitment to surpass revenue collection targets this year and also continue initiatives to ease the process of paying taxes to all Rwandans.
She said that the tax body has fully integrated in regional initiatives such as the Customs Union. Baine added that the tax body plans to transform into an ICT-efficient tax collector.
The Commissioner General pointed out that the tax body exceeded the government target of Rwf280bn to collect 351.8bn, while in the last 6 months (first half), RRA collected 192.2Bn, surpassing the targeted 179.3bn. She added that RRA targets to collect 374.9bn.
Tax Payers rewarded
For the 8th time RRA rewarded the best tax payers and most compliant tax payers. According to Baine, the amount of money paid in taxes does not necessary determine who is rewarded or not but many other aspects such as compliance, transparency and consistence in tax payment as well as other direct contribution to development by tax payers.
The first group to be rewarded was that of best tax payers in the Northern Province who included Faustin Ntambara, Omar Maganya, Bungwe Health Centre, Alphonse Karemera, Constance Nyirandikubwimana, and Ruhengeri Institute of Higher Learning.
The Second category comprised of the highest tax payers led by BRALIRWA, followed by MAGERWA CIMERWA, COGEBANQUE, Serena Hotels, BCR, , Muhanga District, Ngarambe Jonas, Francoise Kyamazima of Greenland Restaurant and Bar and Justine Kazoza.
Most Compliant and Exemplary tax payer’s category were led by MTN Rwanda, Bank of Kigali, Jacques Rusirare of Ameki Colour and Francoise Rutayisire. These were awarded Tax clearance certificate and Blue Channel status
The last category awarded by President Paul Kagame was a group of people who despite having moderate businesses, have paid their taxes in time and dedicated money towards development projects.
The outstanding individuals included Epiphany Mukashyaka who owns coffee washing projects and contributed Rwf3m to ferry electricity to Kaduha Hospital, COTRAGAGI which empowered over 280 people in the Northern Province and Mugiraneza Agricultural project.