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Transparency: Another weapon against corruption

Transparency: Another weapon against corruption

If one visits the TRA website and searches there, one will be able to find formulae or spreadsheets which will enable one to calculate how much one is due to pay if one imports a car, new or used, from abroad. When a friend showed me this website I thought he had hacked into the TRA server and was looking at the ‘secrets’ of that powerful organization. No, he assured me, he had not hacked into TRA computers and that this information was in the public domain.

I was surprised, to say the least. Like me, prior to that revelation by my friend, not many people know this. I would sincerely like to commend TRA for that move, even though it was probably done years ago, only I was unaware of it. TRA should go further and make the formulae for evaluating other taxes open to the public so that corrupt officials within the organization can be ‘tamed’.

I am a Bongolander, I’ve lived here all my life. I understand that we are all paid peanuts and everyone would like to make an extra buck on the side, that’s only human. The problem is when everyone wants to be a millionaire based on corruption; the system is bound to be overloaded and collapse.

I remember in the days when we had to bribe RTC officials so that we could buy the 277 Duduproof radios. (Mende hawezi kuingia). The problem then was one of shortages. Now it is a problem of information. If it was to be clear to everybody that it is better to pay taxes than to bribe the taxman, we will have made great gains.

The issue is how much tax? If the tax man comes to your shop, passes a cursory eye and decides that you are to pay so much by kupima kwa macho, it’s a big problem. If he is corrupt, it’s obvious that he will ‘overestimate’ what you owe to the Authority so that you will beg him for a discount.

That’s where you will need to ‘talk’. The kupima kwa macho, is mostly based on the volume of existing stock. May be the location could give a lead on the volume of sales, but the whole exercise is highly subjective. This transparency as shown by the TRA in vehicle procurement needs to go further.

If I’m new to an office from which I need service, say I want a passport from Immigration or a title for a plot of land that I have owned for years from the Ministry of Lands. It would be lovely if a complete road map was laid out on the procedures, costs and the anticipated ‘lead’ times.

This information should be available on websites and also in print and available at the relevant reception desks. When people who would otherwise be serving other people spend long hours waiting for service from other people in other offices it is not only a great waste of resources and time for national development, but also breeds seeds of corruption; “Would you like to jump the queue?”

Who wouldn’t? “So and so can solve this problem very quickly but you have to ‘talk’ to him”. If a work procedure is not classified
information for national security, if there is no mizengwe intended, let the people know it. It will serve us all better in the long run.

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Mwandishi: JOHN NDUNGURU

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