December 9, 2016
The National Revenue Authority has formally launched its call centre on Tuesday 6th December. According to the Commissioner of the Domestic Taxes Department, Ibrahim Sorie Kamara, the call centre aims at improving service to taxpayers and reducing cost of doing business for all stakeholders, while encouraging regular interaction.
He noted that the call centre will serve as a centralised one-stop information centre for all taxpayer information. He said with the call centre in operation, the business community and other stakeholders need no longer visit NRA offices to get information about it operations and other tax related matters.
Launching the call centre, the Commissioner-General of the NRA said the successful implementation of the call centre was a clear indication of the Authority’s desire to improve customer service delivery. Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara stated that the NRA has been embarking on innovative solutions aimed at improving service delivery and efficiency to maximise revenue collection.
“We have adopted a stance that strongly emphasizes stakeholders’ engagement as a key plank in the drive to promote compliance. Such engagement serves the primary purpose of providing the Authority and those we serve with platforms to constantly exchange ideas and generate mutually satisfactory solutions to our common challenges. As a result, we have embarked on various activities which include nationwide stakeholders education and engagement, the establishment of a Taxpayers Service Unit at the DTD, the provision of Tax Briefs, the appreciation of our distinguished taxpayers through our Annual Awards Night and now the establishment of a Call Centre which we hope will serve to improve service delivery and facilitate trade. With these initiatives, public perception of the NRA has greatly improved as evidenced by a recent service delivery recognition extended to the NRA by some business and professional stakeholders like ICASL and the Bar Association”, the Commissioner-General stated.
She said with the newly established call centre, access to information is now a phone call away with trained taxpayer service agents relaying reliable information speedily. The Commissioner-General also stated that stakeholders are set to benefit from easy access to information through instant responses to queries and complaints relating to domestic taxes and customs issues. She said taxpayers no longer have to wait for feedback on their letters to the NRA or be bothered about their mails not being delivered to the NRA. She further said that with the Authority’s continued commitment to improving stakeholder relationship management, the NRA will sharpen focus on its taxpayers to boost trust and confidence.
“We acknowledge that there is still room for improvement and it is our intention to continue to undertake reforms in order to improve our relationship with Stakeholders. Besides the creation of structured stakeholder engagement platforms, the NRA is also redefining its approach to guide staff relationships with taxpayers. The new approach is encapsulated in our next Strategic Plan where Building Taxpayers Trust through Facilitation for Enhanced Compliance is key to revenue mobilisation and trade facilitation. Our core emphasis on building taxpayers trust is borne through realisation that our current modes of “Enforcement” must be complemented by vigorous stakeholders’ engagement. Our approach going forward therefore is to nurture trust with taxpayers, with a view to cementing positive partnership as opposed to confrontation. In this regard, through the help of our donor partners, we will continue to undertake internal process reforms meant to underpin the new approach. These reforms include the restructuring of tax audit processes to ensure proper governance in areas such as case selection, audit execution and communication of audit findings. As a result, audit mandate will be properly consolidated, controlled and executed. Besides streamlining audits, we intend to also reform internal tax dispute resolution processes with a view to providing taxpayers with more transparent and fair services. In streamlining internal dispute resolution, we also aim to avoid external litigations that are costly to both the NRA and taxpayers, but which in addition damages customer relationships. We shall further streamline our clearance process at Customs by introducing the Gold Card scheme with its priority treatment of members. Furthermore, we are currently working on a Taxpayers Preparer Scheme for small and micro enterprises to support them in their compliance efforts through continuous tax education and the recruitment of tax agents who will provide technical support for those encountering challenges of any kind including legal and/or technological issues”, the Commissioner-General avowed.
Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara further stated that NRA’s drive to achieve technological convergence has substantially helped in transforming the way it delivers its services. In addition, it has been implementing an ambitious programme geared towards changing staff attitudes and culture to create strong positive impressions by strengthening adherence to its core values.
“In delivering our mandate, we must be seen by our taxpayers as Trustful, Ethical, Competent and Helpful. We frown at behaviours that violate our key principles and beliefs.”
She further disclosed that the NRA is setting the platform to implement robust, ambitious and integrated IT systems for Customs, domestic and non- tax revenues. She maintained that if completed, such systems will not only provide further opportunities for better service delivery, but also substantially transform operations and propel the NRA into the league of best tax administrations in the region. She concluded by restating NRA’s determination to continue being responsive to stakeholders’ needs and thanked taxpayers for meeting their tax obligations and help the Authority fulfill its mandate and contribute to the country’s development agenda.
In his statement, the Director of ICT disclosed that the fully operational call centre has 4 highly trained customer service agents and one manager, who are trained in fielding all general tax questions from the public. He said taxpayers and the general public can contact the call centre by calling 139 from Africel or 088 139 139 from other networks. The call centre is located at Wellington Street, opposite the Large Taxpayers Office. It is well equipped to interfaces with existing internal telephone systems that enable callers to be transferred to other staff for further response to queries. It is hoped that the call center will respond to queries received not only through telephone, but also SMS (Short Message Service) and e-mail.