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The Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) says it has observed employees suffering from a lack of confidence possibly due to recent events at the Authority. Taxpayers who have been asking for their taxes to be reviewed have said that employees have been reluctant to make decisions or hear their cases.
During discussions held between management of the Western Addis Ababa branch of ERCA and taxpayers on Friday January 3, 2014 at the National Cultural Center, in Sidist Kilo the issue was frequently raised by the taxpayers.
At the latest discussions between taxpayers and the Authority, many repeated experiences that others have been complaining about for the past several months. They say that ERCA staff have been unwilling to give decisions and have lost confidence in their work.
Taxpayers who participated at Friday’s event complained that they could not get their tax issues cleared up because they could not find someone willing to be responsible to give a decision about their complaint.
“I can’t participate on bids because I have not been able to get clearance from ERCA for over six months,” one of the participants said.
Participants said that employees who did decide on their tax cases were fired or accused of corruption because they conducted their ordinary responsibilities. Meanwhile they say that those who do not do anything are able to remain at their jobs. As a result, they argue, inaction becomes in the best interest of employees causing a bottleneck in the system.
The taxpayers further complained that they were unable to get solutions to their tax issues for several months and were not given any specific reason as to why.
EmuyeAdera, head of the West Addis Ababa Taxpayers branch of ERCA, admitted that lack of confidence and hesitation is something they have been observing from staff.
“The staff is very frightened and retreating from making decisions. She said some of employees are looking to upper officers to handle their cases. Lack of decision making negatively affects the entire system,” Emuye said.
“We have to work to eliminate the fear on the faces of the employees using innovative ways to build their confidence,” she added. “There is also lack of efficiency between employees when they are dealing with cases,” she clarified.
She said that ERCA has identified the problem as a challenge.
“The Authority will work to solve the issue,” she added. “We need the employees to consider customer’s problem as their own problem, if we can do this decision making will improve,” the branch head explained.
She advised that the taxpayers to stand up for their rights confidently rather than accepting every action taken by the tax officers.
Some ERCA directives are not clear, and some of them are confused with other directives issued by ERCA. One of the participant said that authority directives sometimes are issued against the proclamation amended by the parliament, which is the only body that can ratify proclamations, and published them on the ‘Negarit Gazette’, taxpayers argued.
At the event the tax office management claimed that very few people show up at hearings, discussions and education events about taxes that are organized by ERCA.
“We have frequent awareness creation events that are meant for new taxpayers to keep them from tax faults but the number of participants has been much less than expected,” the branch head said.
The number of participants at the discussion held on Friday was also lower than expected.
ERCA’s management agrees that some tax related directives and proclamations are not clear and might be hard for employees to implement when working with customers on a daily basis. Emuye said that the Authority is working to clarify the directives and other laws.