This Article was first published by People Daily, Wikendi.
1. Tell us more about KESRA and what you do.
The Kenya School of Revenue Administration (KESRA) is the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) training School and the largest of the four World Customs Organization (WCO) Training Schools in East and Southern Africa.
Under the auspices of the WCO KESRA’s training mandate extends to 24 countries in Africa. We also host the African Academy for Tax and Financial Crimes Investigations for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Locally, we train the over 8,000 KRA staff, Government agencies and the private sector in tax and customs areas and to a lesser extent in fiscal policy and logistics.
Internally, we run Certificate, Diploma and Higher Diploma Programme and collaborative Post-Graduate Diploma and Master’s Degree with two esteemed university partners. KESRA is accredited by various agencies including the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA), the TVET Curriculum Development and Assessment Certification Council (TVET-CDAC), the Kenya National Qualifications Authority and the National Industrial Training Authority. We are also members of the International Network of Customs Universities, among others. I currently serve as a Commissioner at KRA and the Head of KESRA. The revenue we collect serves to, among others, facilitate government services to small and medium enterprises and other entities.
2. How is KRA supporting SMEs and the overall economic recovery efforts?
KRA has a multifaceted mandate which includes aspects of revenue mobilization, trade facilitation and border control. The revenue we collect serves to, among others, facilitate government services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other entities. We also facilitate export and import trade by ensuring safe and quick passage of goods into and out of the country.
In many cases these goods happen to be export or import stock items and raw materials that SMEs use to process their wares. Through our trade facilitation efforts, we also protect SMEs and other enterprises from unfair external competition that would otherwise be occasioned by illicit entries through our borders. It is note worthy that Kenya is one of the few countries in the region that can comfortably fund its entire lot of recurrent expenditure purely from her taxes. Indeed, every year we collect more taxes than what the rest of East Africa collects combined. The revenue that KRA collects is currently coming in handy to reverse some of the economic shocks occasioned by Covid-19.
3. Tax payers need to be educated constantly on tax issues for them to remain compliant. How is KRA and KESRA doing this?
At the KESRA level we conduct a lot of training for boards, CEOs and senior man-agers including heads of finance, supply chain, tax and human resources to sharpen their knowledge on key tax issues so as to enhance the levels of compliance within their organizations. We also have several similar programmes for entrepreneurs.
KESRA has recently launched an e-Academy through which we are going to disseminate knowledge and skills to trainees across the country. KRA’s stakeholder engagement team which sits in the marketing and communication division and the taxpayer education teams in the revenue departments are also doing a lot of public sensitization across the country on various aspects of taxation and customs. We are also currently leveraging our enhanced revenue platforms to inform and educate our taxpayers. This, of course remains work in progress.
4. How has KESRA responded to disruptions brought about by Covid-19?
One of the most important installations at KESRA at this point is our e-Academy. This is a tool that we revamped at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially as a response to the shutdown of physical training. Through the e-Academy we trained over 2,700 KRA staff and many more groups from the public and private sectors, significantly surpassing our mid year targets on numbers trained during the first half of the financial year 2020/2021.
We intend to continue leveraging this platform to reach our staf and trainees both in Kenya and across the continent. This said, our primary model shall remain a blended one (virtual and physical) for the time being to provide for practical sessions that may not be adequately covered in virtual sessions. We are also partnering with other entities, both locally and internationally to provide training. These include respected entities such as Kenya Defence Forces, Government multi-agency entities, respected Universities, African Tax Administration Forum, World Customs Organization, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and secretariats of regional trading blocks, among others.
5. Which daily habits would you say have contributed to your success?
I don’t consider myself to be successful yet. Success is a continuous journey. We must enjoy the journey and the many destinations that we encounter in between. For me, the journey ahead is longer and more exciting than the journey I have already covered.
In terms of daily habits, I have insatiable thirst for knowledge. For instance, I live about one hour from my office and every morning I use the one hour to listen to podcasts as I drive to the office. This allows me to attend a one-hour class on anything and everything each morning. I also play golf both as a sport and as a drill to sharpen important skills such as focus, strategy and patience. I am currently working on the very important skill of deep observation and analysis of unfolding scenarios in my environment. I am generally a very positive person. I believe the mind can achieve anything it applies itself to.
6. What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading two books; Becoming Supernatural by Dr Joe Dispenza and Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene – this is a book that I have been reading for some time. I highly recommend these two books to anyone whose desire is to understand the self and the environment around the self and to align the two for improved social relations and corporate performance.
7. How do you unwind?
Family and friends are an important part of my life. Nothing comes close to spending time with my wife and daughters and close friends. I also love long drives. To me, taking a long drive is a meditative experience. Just like most men I have a special relationship with my car. Unlike many men I rarely watch soccer but I am increasingly becoming al-most addicted to Golf.