Nairobi, Kenya – April 11, 2014
TradeMark East Africa ( TMEA ) plans substantial continued support to Burundi’s Revenue Authority, Office Burundais des Recettes (OBR). In meetings held in Nairobi on 10 and 11 April, TMEA ’s Chief Executive Frank Matsaert and Deputy CEO David Stanton met Kieran Holmes, Commissioner-General of the OBR.
The financial support is expected to provide $11m for the second phase of OBR’s development, from June 2014 to June 2016. The package was being discussed because the present Commissioner-General’s term of office draws to a close in June this year. The package will be contingent upon continued strong governance and leadership of the OBR, a succession plan that ensures the highest ability and integrity of the new OBR leadership, and approval of a new Strategic Plan for OBR. OBR management will produce this plan for the second phase of support by June, to be discussed and agreed by the Government of Burundi and donors.
Frank Matsaert, TMEA’s CEO, said: “We remain committed to supporting the Government and people of Burundi through strengthening OBR. TMEA, in collaboration with the Government of Burundi and donors has supported OBR to the tune of US$ 23M since 2010. The injection of funds for the OBR second phase represents a substantial forward commitment by donors and TMEA to OBR, building on four years of continuous support to date.”
The funds will support the Burundian Ministry of Finance to strengthen governance, leadership and management of OBR. Part of this investment will improve access to markets for traders through the construction of a $6.1m one-stop border post at Kobero, on the border between Burundi and Tanzania. Other support will introduce streamlined customs procedures between the two countries (known as ‘integrated border management’). The investment will also provide $2.4m for equipment and technical assistance to install a new customs management system (ASYCUDA), an electronic single window system, and a fast track clearance channel for reliable taxpayers called the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) scheme, that is currently being piloted in the EAC under Burundi’s leadership. All these modernisation measures will speed up trade and reduce costs to transporters and consumers, harmonising Burundi’s procedures with fellow members of the East African Community. TMEA has, in addition, published an Expression of Interest for technical assistance valued at $1.2m to OBR in order to sustain the provision of quality advisory support that it has financed since 2010. Its implementation will be guided by the new OBR Phase 2 plan. The technical assistance contract will be fast tracked in view of the wind-down of the existing advisory over the coming months.
“We’re delighted that TMEA’s support will continue. TMEA’s support through the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK and United States has been instrumental in delivering tax reforms in Burundi. Today’s announcement is testament to our partners’ long-term commitment. It guarantees that OBR can continue its work to achieve results, though additional support from other donors will also be required. Tax collection means improved livelihoods, either through improved health facilities, better schools, or world-class roads that facilitate increased trade and prosperity for Burundi,” said Kieran Holmes, Commissioner General of the OBR.
TMEA’s senior team commended the Commissioner General on his strong delivery of results during his four-year term, which comes to an end during the coming months. Burundi’s tax collection has increased by 86% over the last four years, from BIF 301 billion (around U$ 190m) in 2009 (the base year) to BIF 560 (around U$350m) in 2013. TMEA has supported the OBR from inception, legal definition, to implementation with a total of U$23m spent since 2009. This attracted widespread interest from other African states keen to finance their development plans with higher internal revenue streams.
David Stanton, TMEA’s Deputy CEO, commented on the opportunity presented by modern IT and customs management systems to improve transparency for citizens in paying tax. He also remarked on The Government of Burundi’s steady progress in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. Burundi has been named, once again, amongst the top ten reforming countries in the world.