Government has maintained that the three shortlisted candidates for the position of Commissioner/CEO of the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRa) were not suitable to be appointed for the top job and now plans to re-advertise the post.
The revelation comes as Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein unexpectedly announced last week the appointment of Bank of Namibia (BoN) Deputy Governor Ebson Uanguta as the interim Commissioner of NamRa.
The appointment was seen as a huge snub and a vote of no confidence to long-serving Inland Revenue Commissioner Justus Mwafonge, Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) Chairperson Heinrich Mihe Gaomab II and Tax Leader at PWC Chantell Husslemann, who were all running for the top post.
Gaomab II is the Founding Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Competition Commission and has worked at SACU as Deputy Director on Common Policy Development and Regional Integration from 2006 to 2009 and as Company Secretary to the Board & Special Assistant to the Governor of the Central Bank of Namibia from 1998 to 2006.
Until recently, he was the Executive Director at the African Development Bank Group representing the Southern Africa Group Constituency from July 2016 to July 2019 and as the Alternate Executive Director from July 2013 - June 2016.
Husslemann was previously involved in consultations between Inland Revenue Directorate and Ministry of Finance on the deferment of Import VAT payments and also has experience in facilitating consultations between large international groups involved in the merchandising of inter alia mineral products.
The trio had gone as far as being vetted by intelligence and their names had been forwarded to Cabinet, which was expected to deliberate and announce its favorite candidate.
“None of them satisfied all the criteria that we had asked and that’s when we realised that the process had to reviewed but we didn’t want to stifle our momentum to implement. That’s why we have made that special arrangement to have the Deputy Governor of the central bank to stand in,” Schlettwein said.
The failure by the government to appoint the shortlisted candidates comes after it had enlisted the services of a recruitment consultant to assist with the process, allowing it to get the best possible candidates for the post.
Although Uanguta will head NamRa for six months, he has been tasked with putting systems in place ahead of the government’s new operational deadline of March next year, where NamRa is also expected to have found a substantive head.
“We appointed him Commissioner to bring about the institutional developments that are needed to go live end of March. We will advertise again. Within the next six months, that has to happen,” Schlettwein said.
The revenue agency is expected to tighten the country’s tax system, which many say is riddled with loopholes that allow businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
As an autonomous body, it will adopt its own internal policies, including, financial, IT, procurement, risk management, and human resources policies as it seeks to attract and retain critical skills.