Leveraging Digital Technologies For Enhanced Local Revenue Collection and Management in Local Governments in Uganda
13th April 2021, The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) with financial support from the European Union, handed over IT equipment worth €163,000 to 18 districts in Northern Uganda, to support the automation of local revenue administration through the Integrated Revenue Administration System (IRAS). This is part of the €1.72 million overall support of the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) to enhance own source revenue collection and management.
During the event, it was annnounced IRAS,—a web and mobile based revenue management system, developed in partnership with the World Bank for Government of Uganda, would initially be rolled out to five districts of Amolatar, Kole, Omoro, Yumbe and Zombo over the next two months. The district officers will be trained to use the system in the most optimal way to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. It will then be gradually introduced to the remaining districts.
Each district revenue department received five computers and two printers, for capturing and storing data to aid the installation of the system. Additionally, UNCDF is in the process of installing solar power in over 70 subcounties and town councils to ensure stable supply of electricity to run the system.
The IRAS system captures all local revenue sources as described in the Local Government Act and it facilitates registration, assessment, payment, billing, taxpayer feedback mechanism, enforcement and reporting.
Local governments have long struggled to generate local revenue. Low staffing levels, inadequate resources and the manual process of collections- cash being paid to individuals, are some of the challenges increasing revenue leakages. In 2020, the 18 DINU districts mobilised only 1.3% to finance their annual budgets. This performance was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that ensued directly affecting local government fiscal space.
“IRAS is part of the puzzle to help local governments expand their fiscal space in particular increase own source revenue through a more effective and efficient administration so they can tap into alternative financing to support their development goals.” Dmitry Pozhidaev, UNCDF Head of Office
IRAS also features a feedback platform for sensitizing taxpayers. Taxpayers can also share feedback with the local governments. The two way feedback platform will promote accountability and transparency.
“Technology has great potential to enhance transparency and accountability to improve revenue performance and ultimately local service delivery” remarked Caroline Adriaensen, Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Uganda.
While handing over the equipment, the representative of the Minister of Local Government urged the district officials to be responsible for the assets as well as invest in their individual capacity development to ensure tangible progress for the local governments.
“Automating the revenue system will contribute to reducing dependence of local governments on central government transfers and we are committed to support the districts to work with to enhance budgetary allocations,” said Hon. Raphael Magyezi, Minister of Local Government in a statement read by his representative Mr. Jim Ashaba Ahebwa.
UNCDF under its good governance component is working with the Local Government Finance Commission, Ministry of Local Government and the Local Government Associations as well as the districts to improve fiscal abilities and service delivery by strengthening their capacities to efficiently mobilize and equitably allocate and utilize local revenue. This intervention is expected to increase revenue collection in the districts by at least 6% within the next two years.
The Integrated Revenue Administration System (IRAS) is a web and mobile application platform that aids municipalities in collection of local revenue from registration, assessment, billing, payment, sensitization of taxpayers and linking the citizens to municipalities. With the objective of strengthening local government’s revenue administration capacity by leveraging digital technology. The system was initially piloted in three municipalities of Nansana, Fort Portal and Gulu with the support of the World Bank.
Read more here: https://iras.go.ug/portal/