The third Five-Year Corporate Plan of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA),

By Correspondent Ernest C. Ambali

“It is the customer who has the power to change the profit or loss
figures in an annual report. Only by listening to the customer can one
hope to make a solid, lasting and profitable change in business.

“By focusing on the customer, one is really concentrating on serving
and satisfying the customer’s needs. Customer satisfaction creates
customer retention which, in turn, means profitability”.

These words of wisdom are contained in the book entitled,
“Customer—inspired QUALITY” by James G. Shaw.

The words were uttered a few years ago, by then President and Chief
Operation Officer of the Ritz – Carlton Hotel Company LLC, Horst S.
Schulze and written in the book’s Foreword. His words spillover into
what is technically known as “process improvement”.

And, in his introduction, Shaw adds: “for process improvement to be
continuous, for quality to reach excellence and stay there, people
within the organization have to carry on after the initial kick – off
phase”.

The third Five-Year Corporate Plan of the Tanzania Revenue Authority
(TRA), was “kicked off” last July. It has packaged the programme for
conducting perception surveys among the Tanzanian public to know their
views about the service delivery of the TRA.

The TRA says in the plan: “TRA being part of the Tanzania public
would like to know the perception of its stakeholders towards the tax
administration to enable continuous improvement.

“In view of that, perception surveys are conducted to provide input
to the perception indicators” TRA say in the, third plan.

The first operative sentence in the quoted paragraph is the one
saying: “TRA would like to know the perception of the stakeholders
towards the tax administration”

The second is the one saying: “to enable continuous improvement”, and
the third that says: “provision of input to the perception
indicators”.

Perception 2

All these — “to know perception of stakeholders”, enabling continuous
improvement” and “to provide input to the perception indicators”—are
aimed at giving the customer satisfaction.

To add value to services of the TRA directed to stakeholders and more
so to taxpayers, Goal number 3 of the third plan calls for providing
high quality and responsive customer services.

“Internal and external stakeholders’ feedback will continue to form
the basis of TRA’s customer service.

“This will enable TRA to focus on more flexible approaches that will
enhance delivery of service to the needs of stakeholders.

“To achieve this, TRA will encourage the use of electronic means to
gather information and measure the level of service provided as per
the Taxpayers’ Charter”.

Yes, the TRA being part of the Tanzanian public it sees the dire need
for listening to the Customer or taxpayer because it is he who has the
power to change the profit or loss figures in the TRA’s annual
reports.

This semi-autonomous revenue agency, therefore, recognizes the
importance of forging a close partnership with taxpayers and
stakeholders.

It has therefore, put forward a “Taxpayers’ Charter” as a
pronouncement of its commitment to deliver high quality services to
taxpayers and other stakeholders.

The TRA is obliged to deliver high quality services in discharging
its statutory functions of assessing, collecting and accounting for
the Central Government revenues.

As indeed expected, the Taxpayers’ Charter is derived from the
country’s Constitution and other laws. The charter sets out the
respective rights and obligations of the taxpayer and the TRA itself.

The charter also spells out the service standard that TRA will
observe when dealing with taxpayers and other stakeholders.

The Taxpayers’ Chartes is aimed at cultivating a service culture
which reinforces voluntary tax compliance and enhancement of the
legitimacy of the tax system.
Perception 3

In the Preface of the charter, the Commissioner General, Harry M.
Kitillya, reiterates TRA’s commitment to ensuring delivery of high
quality services to taxpayers and stakeholders “in discharging its
statutory functions”.

TRA’s drive towards seeking perception of stakeholders, more so
taxpayers, on its service delivery, is primarily aimed at collecting
views which will help to increase voluntary compliance.

It is increased voluntary compliance that will lead to increased
revenue collection as expected by the Third Five – Year corporate Plan
of the TRA, which will conduct perception surveys.

These surveys will be conducted through questions because sometimes
taxpayers, as customers, do not have the expertise to articulate
complaints against technical and professional areas of TRA’s
operations.

Shaw in his book says that customer-satisfaction surveys are probably
the most important measurement tools in the “other” category.
Questioning your customers can yield important information.

“A valuable means of evaluating out puts, customer surveys yield
information that you can translate into measurable characteristics.

“Results of customer-satisfaction surveys usually are stated in terms
of percent satisfied. Analysis, however, should concentrate on the
percent dissatisfied.

“Concentrating on dissatisfied customers’ focuses you on what remains
to be done. If as percent of your customers are satisfied and eight
percent are not, it is the eight percent that will point the way to a
goal of 100 percent satisfied,” Shaw says.

TRA’S survey follows the same line and objective. It observes that
performance measures are an important tool of assessing the success or
failure of a corporate plan.

TRA has, therefore, established three types of performance measures
that include key performance indicators, operational measures and
perception indicators. They are embedded in the Third Corporate Plan.

Perception 4

Key performance indicators measure nature and scope of operations,
efficiency and effectiveness of the tax administration. These were
developed during implementation of the second Five – Year corporate
Plan.

Operational indicators of performance have been outlined to measure
achievement of each initiative. These will be monitored to enable TRA
and its stakeholders to assess the overall success or failure of the
Third corporate plan.

The third type of performance measure is the one seeking to know the
perception of TRA’s stakeholders towards the tax administration to
enable it to continuously improve its services.

Although statistics on the survey conducted during the first year of
implementing the Third Corporate Plan have not yet been unveiled, it
is believed that a good percentage of taxpayers, perceive the TRA as
an improved tax administration although more spade work must be done.

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