Henri Loundou, Director of cabinet, representing Calixte Nganongo, Congolese Minister of Finance and Budget, closed, Friday 17 January 2020 in Brazzaville, the Seminar on “The Establishment of a New Governance Framework in Tax and Customs Administrations”.
During this closing ceremony, the participants adopted the “Declaration of Brazzaville”, in which, first, they took stock of the essential role played by competent, professional and honest personnel in customs administrations ; thus affirming the urgent need to modernise in depth human resource management in a process of forecast management of staff, trades and skills ; promoting respect for ethics, recognition of merit, transparency in recruitment, assignment, promotion and performance appraisal process for agents, managers and executives.
Secondly, “participants expressed their conviction that improving governance must inevitably involve strengthening the partnership with economic operators, as well as with other State services, within a coordinated management of borders. In this area, the principles of transparency, harmonisation and predictability of customs procedures, as set out in the Trade Facility Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and in the Codes of Customs in force in Central Africa, were a pledge of success of the approach undertaken”.
Participants recognised the essential nature of the automation and dematerialisation of customs procedures, in order to achieve transparency, accountability and respect for integrity, which are today the essential requirement of modern customs.
With regards to tax administrations, participants agreed on the imperative need to engage a higher speed in the processes of simplifying and digitising tax procedures, drawing inspiration from, among other, country experiences that are advanced, and by creating new products, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies, in order to provide a fast and quality service to taxpayers and to make information more accessible. They also agreed that the broad outlines of the Community's “Book of Tax Procedures”, presented by the expert, should allow the establishment of working groups responsible of drafting it. The seminarians agreed on the implementation of internal control mechanisms to access and verify the integrity and proper execution of procedures, with a view not only to improving the performance of the tax administrations, but also optimising non-oil tax revenue, as well as increasing the quality of service provided to the user. Participants also agreed on the need of a real transformation in accountability and transparency. These two concepts, often hidden in the management of public affairs, requires that tax administration must make tax information public, and go beyond it; to explain the merits of the tax. To meet this challenge, participants underscored the need to create initiatives for tax payment. For example, users need to know what the tax was used for.
Participants suggested the promotion of culture of transparency and accountability, by applying the following good practices: creating, within tax administrations, structures for receiving, informing and assisting taxpayers; uploading legal, regulatory and doctrinal documentations; publishing activity and performance reports and the Taxpayer Charter. They also suggested the promotion of quality service and the culture of performance.
In his closing remarks, Henri Loundou emphasised on a few points examined by the participants. Among other things, corruption, which, he said, has the effect of eroding the tax base and foster a weak collection of domestic revenue; frauds, which poses, acutely, the problem of under-computerised of administrations and non-control of users and taxpayers. According to him, efforts should be made in terms of cooperation between administrations, to share information and detect these practices early. Ethics and professional conduct were added to these points examined by the participants. For Henri Loundou “ethics and professional conduct are two frameworks that make it possible to build rules and promote healthy behaviours in the workplace, and promote staff integrity and an effective application of established procedures”. Regarding the point on transparency and accountability, the Director of cabinet said that they should allow more clarity in applying procedures, and providing a trusting environment for users and taxpayers. Regards risk management, it must be understood as a corporate culture, aimed at streamlining transactions, early detection of practices that contravene the rules and maintaining compliance of these rules with laws and regulations in force.
The Director of cabinet of the Minister of Finance recalled that the implementation of recommendations set forth in the “Declaration of Brazzaville” requires strong support from the authorities, in order to make the tax and customs systems more legible by eliminating any possibility of exemption which is a source of corruption, in addition to the loss of revenue it generates.
This support will also allow to digitise procedure and tools, to limit human contact. Henri Loundou concluded.
The Press office of the Ministry of Finance