The Namibia Revenue Agency, which will replace the current Inland Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, will be benchmarked against the revenue agencies of South Africa,
Mauritius and Swaziland, Technical Economic Advisor to the Minister of Finance, Penda Ithindi, has said.
“We are largely doing it ourselves. We have benchmarked ourselves with a number of countries - South Africa, Mauritius and Swaziland. When we need expertise to support the initial phase, we will ask these countries,” Ithindi said in an interview.
Although largely locally driven, the process to set up the agency will also receive technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German government’s development agency.
While there has been some concern about the skill levels of the current staff at Inland Revenue, Ithindi said the performance of the department was not as bad as it was perceived in certain quarters.
“We are not performing badly in terms of revenue collection in the regional and in the international context. We collect over 30 percent of GDP, if you exclude revenue from SACU, we collect about 21 percent, and the African average is 17 percent. Namibia is way above the African average. South Africa collects about 27 percent of GDP, despite that they have had a revenue agency for a long time.”
Further commenting on the skills that will be required for the agency, Ithindi said there will be no automatic transfer of staff.
“We are not just changing wine bottles, all jobs will be treated as new, they will be advertised; interviews will take place and there will be a selection process by a recruitment agency.”
He said the agency is expected to improve the administration of tax.
“What we are after with the revenue agency is not for the collection to go up, we are after administrative issues, efficiency in the delivery of tax services. We are hoping that there would be some positive spinoffs, fairness in the collection of revenue, if there are people not paying tax they must start doing so. The agency has more capacity to widen tax base.”
Ithindi said the only way of attracting specialised skills was to establish the agency and pay salaries that are outside those of the public service commission.
Inland Revenue currently employs more than 1300 workers.
The new agency will be tasked with assessing tax and collection.
Last year, Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, said 730 officials from the Inland Revenue department and 650 from the directorate of customs will have to reapply for their jobs when the agency is established this year.
He said staff from the ministry will be offered the first opportunity to apply for jobs at the agency.
Those who fail to get jobs within the agency will be transferred to other work stations within the public service.