Tax specialist delivers "real change" in South Sudan

05 Jul 2011

image Yambio market, where traders are now contributing to state tax revenues. (Photo: UNDP)

Through an initiative to raise public awareness and boost the knowledge and skills of public servants in South Sudan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helped a state in the newly-emerging east African country to increase tax revenues from zero to US$850,000 since February.

Through placement of highly-qualified individuals in a UNDP-managed capacity building programme, Western Equatoria State has collected US$850,000 in revenues from among the 1.7 million population during the last four months following specialized training to staff of the newly-formed State Revenue Authority, a series of radio broadcasts and guidance manuals.

Among the 150 UN Volunteers helping to build institutions of state in preparation for South Sudan’s inauguration on 9 July, Olympio Attipoe has been improving internal systems and procedures as well as developing staff skills and helping to recruit more staff to manage the country’s first national budget next year.

“A real change has occurred,” said Gobson Magaya, Western Equatoria State’s Economic Advisor. “We collected sizable amounts of taxes in a very short time. This is the fruit of the UNDP revenue specialist and we are very grateful to him for the high quality and workshops he designed. We are glad to have in place the nucleus for a professional revenue structure.”

In addition to producing a reference book Principles of Taxation for use by revenue collectors, Attipoe also helped Western Equatoria’s revenue authority create a fiscal regulatory framework. He ran a twice-weekly radio program on tax collection and public service funding, including support from prominent community and religious leaders.

Director General of the revenue authority, Laurence Sulubia, welcomed the move towards a more centralized revenue accounting system, saying: “In the past each government department used to collect taxes and utilize the fund without remitting into a centralized account. The system was inefficient and ineffective as money collected is immediately used without accountability.”

UN Volunteers are continuing their work in all 10 states of South Sudan in areas such as finance management, urban planning, civil engineering and rule of law.