Notice to replace Dr. Olympio halted
By David Mono Danga
The government is still struggling to replace Dr. Olympio Attipoe (PH.D), former Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority two months after his controversial sacking by the Ministry of Finance.
In a public notice written by Garang Majak Bol, the First Undersecretary in the ministry, the ministry cancelled its job advert seeking a new candidate for the vacant position of the Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority.
On October 10, 2019, the ministry advertised on this newspaper seeking a suitable candidate to replace Dr. Attipoe and get the revenue body running again. However, it seems the public is going to wait a little bit longer.
“This notice therefore serves to notify the public that this advertisement is hereby cancelled until further notice,” the ministry’s cancellation notice partly read.
“We apologize for any inconveniences that may have been caused,” Bol wrote.
Two months ago, the Minister of Finance, Salvatore Garang issued a controversial ministerial order firing Dr. Olympio, undermining a Presidential Degree that appointed and charged him with the responsibility to reform the non-oil revenue collection sector, including assessing, collecting, administrating and enforcing laws relating to taxation and revenues.
To date, no one has given reasons for his sacking but Dr. Attipoe seemed to have known in advance.
In an article published by Voice of America – VOA on July 26, 2019, he accused some “unidentified individuals” for allegedly threatening to have him fired after he revoked the tax exemptions of big companies — exemptions that had been pushed by high-ranking government officials.
“These are people who are trusted by his Excellency, the president, to support his vision,” Attipoe was quoted by VOA. “They are not doing their work. They are busy running around. We have been here, the threat is going on. They don’t want the system to work because they are benefiting from the chaos.”
Attipoe said the revenue authority was collecting far less revenue than it should. “At times we collect 1.5 billion [South Sudanese pounds] and we grant exemptions of 3 billion. At times what we are losing to tax exemption is more than 200% of what we are collecting,” he said.
Attipoe said some exemptions are granted to allow nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies to provide humanitarian assistance to citizens, but many others are granted to companies and individuals hired by the government.
He helped set up a Single Treasury Account -to ensure revenues collected are wired into the government coffers and not into individual pockets.
He also cancelled several tax exemptions that were approved through senior government officials, including one by the Minister in the Office of the President.
According to VOA report, a June 14th letter— written by Mayiik Ayii Deng, a minister in the Office of the President, and addressed to Finance Minister Salvatore Garang — requested that the National Revenue Authority exempt the RAK Resources Group from paying taxes.
The company was described as an indigenous construction company.
The letter stated that the company planned to import factory service equipment, medical items, fuel, agricultural and petroleum products, construction materials and food worth more than $491 million U.S.
“In reference to the government’s policy on promotion of local enterprise, and the President’s commitment to provide enablers to revive the economy, I am requesting your esteemed office to grant tax exemption on the above mentioned imports,” the letter stated.
Dr. Attipoe used to conduct monthly press conferences announcing weekly and monthly revenues collected; the Revenue Authority is yet to make any public announcements on revenues collected in the past two months since the former commissioner general was relieved of his duties.