ERCA organizes its house to better focus on duties

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Following the arrest of its higher officials in the end of the past fiscal year, the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) had kept busy with an internal evaluation during the first quarter of the budget year. It now announced that it is back on track with its pursuit and control of tax evasion by the private sector and for the first quarter of the budget year, it met 96.4 percent of its target in terms of tax collection.
Efrem Mekonen, Public Relation Head of ERCA, noted that the authority’s law enforcement activities had softened in the past few months, after the imprisonment of its officials including Melaku Fenta, its former director and his deputy Gebrewahid Gebregiorgis, together with other high officials and branch heads that were charged on alleged corruption.
“In the beginning of the budget year, following the arrests, we have been focusing on calming the authority’s employees,” Efrem said. “But now we have come to a consensus to focus on law enforcement activities and control tax evasion,” he added.
In the past few years, ERCA has been strongly working on law enforcement and harmonization of the tax system throughout the country. It has also taken several measures on some businesses in the private sector accused of evading tax. According to some observers the authority has been successful in terms of controlling tax evasion and avoidance.
“We will control tax evasion,” Efrem strongly asserted calling for the public’s cooperation to help control illegal business activities.
Observers say that tax control, use of cash register machines as well as issuing of receipts have declined since the arrest of the officials.
Meanwhile, lack of good governance and corruption were identified as major challenges at the authority from the general employees’ review ERCA conducted.
Currently ERCA’s Addis Ababa branch employees are assessing their past year achievement, in line with the evaluations that were held months ago between ERCA officials and the employees at the Authority’s headquarters.  
In the first three months of the current fiscal year ERCA collected about 25.4 billion birr. Last year same period it recorded 22.3 billion birr. The authority had targeted to earn 26.3 billion birr in the stated period.
In the current budget year ERCA targets to earn 116.8 billion birr from different tax sources and customs duties.
“Based on the current accomplishment we will easily achieve our target set for the year,” Efrem confidently said.
The federal authority and Addis Ababa branch has 8,275 employees, which still represents only 52.5 percent of the workforce the authority needs. According to ERCA’s report the authority needs 15,777 employees in various positions.
Employees’ turnover is said to be one of the major challenges at ERCA. But Efrem stated that the employees are now relatively happy after the arrest of the former officials. “Currently the staffs have good spirit and they are now looking for a better working condition.”
In related development, Kibru Lakew, who was the head of ERCA branch at Airport Customs has been appointed as head of Customs Branch Assistance Office at the headquarter.
Efrem told Capital that Zeru Getinet, who was the Head of Asset Administration at ERCA replaced Kibru to head Airport Customs