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Finance minister fires NRA boss

Author: Abraham Garang | Published: Saturday, August 24, 2019

Dr. Olympio Attipoe, Former Commissioner -General National Revenue Authority (NRA) addressing journalists during a press conference in Juba [Photo| Eye Radio/Joakino Francis - June 11, 2019

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Salvatore Garang Mabiordit has dismissed the Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority.

A ministerial order dated 23rd of August 2019, issued by the Minister of Finance and Planning, Salvatore Garang Mabiordiit terminated Dr. Olympio Attipoe’s contract as commissioner general of the South Sudan National Revenue Authority.

There is no reason given for his dismissal, other than “exercising the powers” derived from the National Revenue Act 2016, according to the dismissal letter obtained by Eye Radio.

Dr. Olympio Attipoe, a Ghanaian national was appointed by President Kiir in 2018 with mandates of assessing, collecting, administrating and enforcing laws relating to taxation and revenues across the country.

Since his appointment, he established the Single Treasury Account, a public accounting system under which all government revenues, receipts, and income are collected into a single account.

The single Treasury account was established purposely to ensure accountability of government revenue, enhance transparency and avoid misappropriation of public funds.

Since South Sudan gained independence in 2011, it is alleged that public funds have been pocketed by some government officials because of lack of unified mechanisms of tax collection and public funds management in the country.

In January and February this year alone, the body announced the collection of 1 billion pounds and another 9.1 million dollars in non-oil revenue.

Also in March, the body announced another collection of 1.2 billion Pounds and 4.7 million US dollars in the non-oil revenue sector.

In August, the body again announced that it collected 5 million dollars and another 1.5 billion pounds in the month of July alone.

The former revenue boss also helped in opening Single Treasury Accounts and tax harmonization for various states including Jonglei, Torit, Gbudue, Jubek, and others.

In July this year, Dr. Olympio revoked exempt status of a multi-million dollar road construction company.

On June 14, the minister in the office of the President, Mayiik Ayii Deng, wrote to the minister of finance and economic planning, Salvatore Garang – asking him to grant tax-exempt for ARC Resource Corporation Limited.

Following the mandates of the tax collection body, the National Revenue Authority in August this year also distanced itself from what appeared to be a fraudulent business scheme engineered by the chairman of the Traders’ Union and backed by senior government officials.

Businessman Ayii Duang secured what some government institutions called “Letter of no Rejection” approval to register both foreign and local traders in the country where each foreign trader must pay 100 dollars; while a local trader pays 10,000 pounds.

In an exclusive interview with Eye Radio today, former Commissioner-General – Dr. Olympio Attipoe admitted being relieved from his duties but said for he could not share the reasons behind his dismissal.

“Yeah it is true I have been relieved, this story, for now, we don’t want to speak about it, it’s not appropriate for us to speak about it. Yes, the letter is true and let’s leave it like that,” Dr. Attipoe said.

However, in June this year, Attipoe said some government officials accused him of diverting money to his personal offshore accounts.

He denied the allegations and blamed some unnamed government officials for working for his failure.

“Some of the people who are orchestrating this rumors are the people appointed by His Excellency the President, he trusted these people that they will present him and do the work and make sure that we implement his vision, but unfortunately these people are the people who undermine the vision of the President,” he said.

“They don’t want the President to succeed, every single successful program in this country they don’t want it to happen, especially they don’t want any institution to function, in a civilized manner in an accountable manner, and as a result they are doing everything possible to make sure that the revenue authority is not established according to international best practices.”

This week, Dr. Attipoe proposed a new Taxation Bill 2019 to replace the Taxation Act of 2009.

The draft bill is expected to address, among others the relationship between the national and the state government in relations to taxation.

It also seeks to define the jurisdiction between personal income tax at the national and the state level.

The former Commissioner-General was appointed as part of the revenue mobilization project funded by the African Development Bank.

The project aims at building and establishing strong institutions to properly manage non-oil revenues.

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