All URA staff to wear body cameras at work

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is set to introduce body-worn cameras in a bid to stamp out corruption, which President Museveni believes is a major problem undermining the country’s revenue collection efforts.

The Black Examiner can reveal that beginning yesterday, the tax body has been inviting proposals from eligible bidders to supply them with body-worn cameras.

The small video camera that the tax collectors will be placing on their chest or shoulder lapel to monitor, record evidence of the ongoing transactions and operations while in the field, is meant to nip in the bud a situation that could “compromise URA officers.”
In addition to wearing it on the uniform, the forward-facing camera can also be worn on the hat or eye glasses.

“There is nothing wrong with having URA officers with a body camera. It will ensure that the officers are doing the right thing. And that is why we think it is okay to have them,” the Director for Economy Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Moses Kaggwa, said in an interview yesterday.

He added: “There is a link between having body-worn cameras and reducing or fighting corruption. It will now be easy to know where officers are and what they are doing. We believe now chances of them being compromised or compromising the taxpayers will lessened. This is a good thing that will help in smooth revenue collection.”

According to Mr Kaggwa, whose department oversees URA, the cameras will also increase transparency during operations such as stop-and-search incidents, or other situations where URA officers interact with the taxpayer.

According to the Budget Speech delivered last week by Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, to raise revenues for Financial Year 2023/2024 amounting to Shs29.7 trillion, priority has been placed on improving tax administration, intensifying surveillance and wider coverage of porous borders to curb smuggling through extensive intelligence-focused operations supported by use of drones and body cameras.

Use of ICT to fight tax evasion to reduce revenue leakage and leveraging the same to analyse data and integrating with other government systems to properly identify taxable transactions and taxpayers, are among the measures that will be deployed, with an objective of improving revenue collection to between 16 and 18 percent of GDP over the next five years from about 13.5 percent of GDP currently.

Body-worn cameras can be used in any setting where it is paramount to deter anti-social behaviour and crime – or to safeguard personnel against accusations of misconduct, something that seems to be one of the overriding factors for deployment of this technology.

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