Opinion: Dr. Olympio Attipoe, the victim of corruption fight in South Sudan

By Zechariah Makuach Maror

Former South Sudan National Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Dr. Olympio Attipoe (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

January 5th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – Few months heretofore the commissioner general of South Sudan revenue authority, Dr. Olympio Kudzo Attipoe, a contracted foreigner who hails from Ghana was relieved by the ministerial statute. It was subsequently followed by formation of the investigation committee to find out the allegation brought against him by his colleagues concerning misappropriation of the tax revenues. He was also placed under strict movement until the submission of the fact-finding reports to the minister of finance and planning.

Some proclaimed impatiens mouthpiece of the financial sector rushed in and publicized that the commissioner committed the heftiest embezzlement, Tax crimes, corruption, money laundering and other illicit flows threatening the strategic, political and economic interests of this country. They also said Dr Olympio sometime acted out of policies of financial institutions by unilaterally publishing the monthly collected levies without the knowledge of the concerned institution.

With these extraordinary scenarios, all knowledgeable citizens were bitterly waiting for the reports to see how the foreigner who was purposely contracted by the President of the Republic to reform none oil revenue sector misaligned from the expected parkway. It was until 27th December last year when the writer accidentally met a circulation on social media addressed to Dr. Olympio Kudzo Attipoe titled, reports of the investigation committee.

Passing through the manuscript, instead of my prejudicial expectation, the report tends to be hoisting of restrictions and assurance of Dr. Attipoe by the minister of finance and planning to move freely without panic including returning back to his country of origin if he wishes to. My first surprise was that the document didn’t indicate the findings of the committee as promised. The second surprise, the title of the letter didn’t match the body of the message since it was titled report of investigation committee but the physique declare the exempt of accused from the impediment placed on him.

Up to date, citizens are still green about the game between the ministry of finance and the National staffs in the commission. To backdate my argument, when this outlandish was removed last year, there was sharp speculation in the commission that the complicity of South Sudanese secretly conceded to topple exotic animals by concocted some corruption charges against him. This was proved by the former commissioner-general of South Sudan’s National Revenue Authority’s interview with VOA news when he revealed to have been threatened by unidentified individuals within the government that he could be fired after he attempted to revoke the tax exemptions of big companies, the exemptions that had been pushed by high-ranking government officials. He moreover added in a separate press release that, people who are working with President Salva Kiir tried to fail him by all means. With this statement above, it indicates that there might have been bitter conflict in sub-finance House.

With this lifting now, the burden falls on the nationals since he is now free without the report of so-called investigation committee or concrete evidence that prove his fraud. There is an evidence of corruption which we the citizens will not hesitate to point our miserable fingers to the national servants who are working in South Sudan financial sector. Because his dismissal was so clumsy to the extent even a mere villager who had never gone to school can recognize that it was illicitly cooked. According to simple understanding of absolute powers granted by our Constitution, the former commissioner was appointed by the President and any other attempt to remove him is expected to come from the same cited immunity that installed him. It looks like the deal was simmered and finally executed from the bottom half of the government and doubtlessly it is. I am still wondering what could actually have shied or compelled my fearless president from removing the folk he had appointed by himself.

I assume Dr Attipoe became a victim for combating chronic corruption in the financial sector because since his appointment, he had been engaging in ameliorating the dishonesty which our addictive racket politician institutionalized for years since the independence of this nation. He initiated the reforms by establishing banking system network that controls and regulates transactions to make sure that no currencies enters in someone’s cavities, to secure that no custom personnel/officer builds luxurious skyscraper abroad or earn PhD abroad with borders levy capital. To guarantee the collected pounds are used for the benefit of our citizens in rural areas who are lacking water, food, shelter, and health care system, to ensure that none oil revenues are used for paying our overdue civil servant who sometimes go for five to six months without salaries. To make sure that R-ARCSS is funded timely for restoration of permanent peace. To ensure the USA and western governments do not embarrass us with their so-called economics Sanctions.

I think this technocrat was brought to address the concerns of increasing number of tax collection’s tables at the border crossing points. Many different checkpoints were believed to be manned by staffs of diverse government agencies – including the police, SPLA, and customs – each levying their own tax at any entry border point, be it Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Congo and Ethiopia entry points or internal checkpoints between local state boundaries. Recent efforts have sought to crack down on the high number of tables. Nevertheless, members of the business community have been reporting being overtaxed which is believed to be one of the factors behind the sky rocketing of prices in so-called capitalist free market. Justification for the duplication of tax collection efforts is likely attributable to the relative ease with which it is possible to collect border taxes, and the confusion over precise legislative status. There exists, perhaps justifiably, a degree of mistrust and misunderstanding between tax officials and the public at large.

The ideas around tax and state-building were likely to be translated into effective policy – especially in and after senseless post-conflict in this State. Honest arguments of tax policies in these type of country like South Sudan reveals taxation to be frequently understood as a solely economic concern, with little or no consideration for historical or State-building roles. Post-conflict State-building challenges are immense and the likelihood of war and political tension typically are high – especially when people talk about socio-economic and political reforms in an evidently corrupted society. To make it simple, there’s no excuse for not wielding all the tools potentially at our disposal for assisting States transition from war to peaceful stable economic which must also centralize tax reforms. I think it was a pressing opportunity to buck this trend but we lost it in expenses of self-interest.

Finally, I assumed the rendition below could have provided functional benefit which I anticipate our government could have benefit from Dr. Olympio tax reform policies. The command structure for tax and customs revenue administration would have been well defined and there will be holistic approach to Domestic Tax and Customs Administration to avoid illegal check points. Departmental flow of information within the Authority would have been enhanced to ensure access to information for all and systematic channeling of the works. There could be no multiple conflicting checkpoints which is still a burden to taxpayers these would have enhance submission of returns and payments of taxes and thereby enhanced custom service delivery; single source for tax enquiries will be furnished and reduced administrative and tax compliance cost and these would have been afterward followed by common tax procedures that will enable taxpayers to be governed by a single set of rules thus address hyperinflation. The tax net will be widened and there will be equitable distribution of tax burden with greater transparency and integrity revenue mobilization will be efficient, enhanced and improve our fragile economic by battling corruption through transparency and accountability.

The writer is a political activist and he could be reached via email, zechariahmakuach25@gmail.com or zeemakuach@hotmail.com


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