When the headhunt was on for a person to change the fortunes of Uganda Revenue Authority 10 years ago, no one thought President Museveni would zero down to a little known psychologist—Allen Catherine Kagina.
Despite being considered an outsider contender, she took the job and became the Commissioner General of Uganda URA in 2004.
At the time, the public perception of the tax body was at its worst. Matters were not helped by the Justice Julia Ssebutinde 2004 report, a result of months of inquiry that unearthed one of the grandest corruption scandals in the government tax institution.
Kagina’s first task was to institute administrative reforms and policy changes aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the corruption-saddled tax institution.
In her performance report last week, she said: “In 2004, the administrative reforms started with an organisational restructuring that reduced the number of administrative layers from 17 to seven.
This greatly reduced bureaucracies, improved communication and decision making turnaround time.
“Thereafter, we undertook the modernisation reform strategy to transform URA into an efficient and effective agency that is client focused.”
Despite some challenges, efficient applications of mentioned initiatives were the beginning of the steady U-turn for the tax body, resulting into growth of the much-needed revenue collections from nearly 57 per cent, when she took over in 2004 to currently 317 per cent—at the time she is bowing out.
“In the last 10 years, the revenue collections have grown from Shs1.9trillion to Shs8trillion while tax collections which used to support 58.7 per cent of the national Budget is now supporting 71.5 per cent of the national Budget,” Kagina recollected while presenting the tax body’s last decade’s performance last week in Kampala.
When asked whether she is satisfied with the achievement that URA has registered with her at the helm, she said she is not good at blowing her own trumpet.
“I did the best I could,” she said, before adding that her task was to usher in the era transformation, something that she believes she has achieved.
She has a word for the leaders of Uganda and her compatriots. According to Kagina, it is in the interest of the country that it fully finances its national Budget in the near future by making policy and administrative changes that she has been part of over the last years.
It is because of her progressive leadership, her contract was renewed twice in the last ten years. But, this time she said she is not looking at bouncing back no matter the amount of persuasion.
“I am leaving behind an excellent team.
And any one of them can ably lead the institution without any trouble. And I will really love it if whoever replaces me is chosen from within. There is no need to pick someone from outside who will need to go through another session of the learning curve. People from within (URA) know the organisation and they will just go on with the work.”
Who is Allen Catherine Kagina?
Allen Catherine Kagina is a psychologist by profession. She started her career in 1985, as a teaching assistant at Makerere University before relocating to the Office of the President. In 1992 when she joined the tax body as a senior principal revenue officer till 1998.
Two years late (in 2000) she was promoted to the rank of deputy commissioner - customs where she served until 2001. Three years later - in 2004, she was appointed the Commissioner General.
When she took over the mantle in 2004, she opened her account with a surplus, and maintained it, save for the last couple of years, especially the previous financial year where she recorded the biggest revenue shortfall in years.