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The Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) officials expressed disappointment over the lack of attendances at a discussion program held on December 25 at Kokeb Hall, a common area for ERCA meetings, located around the head quarters of ERCA at Megenagna.
The discussion was on several tax issues with the ERCA’s Eastern Addis Ababa Branch. Although only a few people showed up, the discussions occurred until a tea break was declared.
According to the attendance list, 57 people participated including media representatives. It is possible that others left because they thought the meeting was postponed.
Hiwot Addis, head of ERCA’s Eastern Addis Ababa Branch, said that they invited at least 1,000 participants to attend the discussion. She said that about 15,000 businesses are overseen by her branch. She hopes more people will attend these types of events. “It is a good opportunity for the tax payers who want their complaints heard but don’t want to travel to each individual office, to voice those complaints.”
“We have spent a lot of resources on renting out the hall and making announcements via media for the event and ERCA officials including tops from the head office were here,” she complained.
One potential solution, some say, would be to better publicize the event. Even though the tax office representatives wanted to postpone the event for another time, the discussion continued until tea break at ten in the morning.
Hiwot told Capital that they will evaluate the reason why participants are not attending these kinds of events.
She said that they have organized a similar event in the past and more have shown up but still not as many as they had hoped.  “We will see if the event did not attract participants due to the location or another reason,” she added.
“We have noticed that the public does not have an interest in coming in an  organized way at an event but instead, prefer to come to the tax office individually,” she said.
“The other thing is that some of the participants think that the meeting will not really change anything because they previously did not get their complaints resolved. But we are here with our responses and plans for changes that ERCA has taken based on the previous event,” she told Capital.
ERCA usually undertakes similar discussions with tax payers every quarter year. But most of the events organized by the authority receive attention from tax payers, unlike this week’s event.