Low revenue collection impedes service delivery in Kapelebyong district

KAPELEBYONG, February 22, 2024 – There was a lot of excitement among locals when Kapelebyong district curved from Amuria district and operationalised on July 1, 2018.

The excitement among the locals of the young district was that its creation and operationalisation would create job opportunities and ensure sustainable socio-economic development through improved service delivery.

Though some people have gotten job opportunities in different departments, Kapelebyong district struggles to provide good services to the locals due to low revenue collection.

Simon Emeru, the Kapelebyong district Chief Finance Officer [CFO], said that for the last four years, the district has been performing poorly in terms of revenue collection.

He explained that the district had projected to collect Shs 400 million this financial year 2023/2024, however with less than four months left to close the year, only Shs 158mln has so far been realised.

“This means that the district is faced with an uphill task to raise Shs 242mln within the remaining period before the running financial year ends on June 31, 2024,” said Emeru.

Kapelebyong district in 2021/2022 financial year was projected to collect about Shs 272mln, out of which about Shs 218 was collected while in the financial year 2020/2022, only about Shs 215mln was realised out of the planned Shs 452.5mln.

In the financial year 2019/2020, the district had planned to raise about Shs 385.2mln but they managed to collect about Shs 288mln, a performance which Emeru described as fair compared to other financial years.

According to Emeru, low revenue collection is negatively impacting efficient and effective service delivery in the district as they are not able to implement activities that are funded using local revenue.

“Currently 90 percent of the district’s activities are funded by the central government because the district has a low tax base,” he said.

Services affected by low revenue mobilisation include garbage collection in town councils, road and borehole maintenance, and payment of some staff hired by the district.

Faustine Atepu, a revenue officer blamed low revenue collections in the district on factors such as a narrow tax base, poor attitude of the taxpayers, effects of Covid-19, political interference, and understaffing.

Other factors include low uptake of digitalised revenue collection techniques, and limited funding for implementation of local revenue enhancement activities, among others.

Atepu said the district local government currently depends on weekly markets of Adipala, Acowa, and Kapelebyong, trade licenses property tax, and registration of birth and death certificates among others as some of the major sources of revenue.

However, Etepu said they have developed strategies to enhance local tax revenue collection, including demonstrating accountability and transparency, implementing all laws and regulations on revenue collection, and delivering services.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Opio, the Kapelebyong District Communication Officer told theCooperator that they have begun sensitising locals on revenue mobilisation and countering negative statements made by some politicians.

“Some political leaders are busy wasting time fighting with technocrats instead of coming up with strategies on how to improve revenue collection and this is what we are focusing to address,” said Opio.

According to Opio, Kapelebyong district has huge potential to improve revenue collection, adding that they are working on some issues such as changing the taxpayers’ mindset, and developing more capacity in tax administration.

On the other hand, Vincent Ewalu, Secretary of Finance and Administration urged locals to pay taxes if they are to get good services from the district.

“If people meet their obligations of paying tax, the district will be able to finance its planned activities for the 2023/2024 financial year,” he said.

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