In the latest bid by authorities to combat corruption, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) employees will start wearing body-worn cameras to prevent bribery. In recent years, Kenya has seen an increase in staff bribery and tax evasion cases in important revenue collection points throughout the country.
The cameras, also known as bodycams, which are frequently used by law enforcement officers in the United States, will primarily be used by KRA employees who work in the domestic tax department, customs and border control.
The integrity of the KRA employees has been questioned due to rising tax cheating cases. In recent years, employees have been charged with aiding in the fraudulent clearance of cargo and filing false tax forms to assist individuals in avoiding paying duty. Some KRA employees have accumulated assets worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as real estate and expensive cars, which are not consistent with their salaries.
The introduction of bodycams is an attempt by Kenya to fund its national budget by maximizing domestic revenue rather than relying on borrowing. The usage of cameras will begin in high-end places such as Mombasa port, the Inland Container Depot, and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Githii Mburu, the KRA's Commissioner General, said that “very soon, we'll make sure all of our employees have body-worn cameras, similar to those you see in the US, so that everything they do is captured and visible to us. We'll also need to know why you put it off when you do it.”
In an effort to eliminate widespread corruption that costs the state millions of dollars, KRA has in the past investigated its staff members and subjected them to lifestyle audits. The agency arrested tens of its employees for aiding tax evasion in 2019 after carrying out covert surveillance for four months, which involved wiretapping.
Early this year, a former KRA supervisor, Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua was ordered by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to turn over property worth Sh278 million to the state after receiving bribes. The EACC testified before the court that Kinyua, who left KRA in March 2021, amassed the property over a seven-year period while earning a net salary of Sh11.6 million (98554 USD)
KRA is also trying to reduce corruption on sites producing excisable goods like alcoholic beverages by accessing real-time CCTV feed from factory floors to track the movement of items. The agency also intends to place sensors in storage tanks which will monitor and indicate the volume of completed products in order to combat excise evasion by alcohol factories.
Through the use of data and intelligence surveillance to detect fraudsters, KRA estimates that it loses $17 million annually from excise tax evasion alone.
Additionally, the agency plans to step up its campaign against wealthy tax evaders and impose travel restrictions, asset freezes, and the cancellation of personal identification numbers (PINs) to those found guilty.
Kenya made a promise to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reclaim unpaid taxes from high-net-worth professionals and traders in an effort to increase national income.
The KRA has identified businesses and affluent people who owe it millions of dollars in tax evasion, such as doctors, real estate investors, lawyers, and other self-employed professionals.
The tax agency expects to surpass its revenue collection target by $1.2 billion in the current fiscal year and is aiming for overall collections of $17 billion through improved tax collection and recovery activities.