Ending poverty through effective tax governance


Ending poverty through effective tax governance


17 November 2015

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have reached their deadline this year and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have now kicked in. Ending poverty is Nº1 among the 17 goals set by the United Nations in order to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all”.


Considerable progress was made in the context of the MDGs. The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline and more than 1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990 (Source: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml). However, a report recently published by the international development organization Development Initiatives indicates that the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased in 30 countries. The 18 countries to have experienced the fastest increase in poverty are all in Sub-Saharan Africa. Needless to say, these countries must take drastic measures if they are to successfully end poverty by 2030, as required by the SDGs.


The report looks into both the international and domestic resources available to countries to help them end poverty, but highlights the importance of foreign aid in achieving this goal. However, when it comes to financing development, the consensus is that emerging and developing countries should be encouraged to leverage their own resources as opposed to rely on foreign aid, since the efficiency of the latter has been found to be debatable.


Avatar Technologies (Avatar), a parent company of Global Voice Group, rises to the challenge. It proposes to empower emerging and developing countries to harness their tax system to increase their revenue. Avatar offers the governments of these countries a comprehensive and real-time tax collection system that registers every single sale electronically via its Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs). The system therefore makes it impossible to suppress the records or to evade taxes and contributes to widening the countries’ tax base.


The resulting increase in tax revenue allows these countries to finance their on development, reducing their dependence on foreign aid. Avatar’s EFD solution thus provides the tools to secure and control the collection of micro-taxes associated with innovative financing mechanism. This approach to development funding is in line with that of the IMF and of the World Bank, both institutions advocating the revamping of the poor countries’ tax system, as well as the promotion of these countries’ financial autonomy.


Read the whole article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201509241323.html


Tanzania to broaden tax base through electronic receipts


Tanzania to broaden tax base through electronic receipts


May 01, 2013

The Tanzanian government expects to collect 600 billion shillings ($370 million) a month after a new tax system expanding the use of electronic tax register (ETR) machines takes effect on May 15th.

Currently, the government collects 400 billion shillings ($250 million) per month in taxes.

ETR machines tabulate sales receipts at the close of each business day and electronically send that data to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) for an accurate tax assessment.

“Under the new system, businesses that earn anything from 14 million shillings ($8,600) to 40 million ($25,000) from now will have to use ETR machines,” said TRA Deputy Commissioner for Domestic Revenue Generose Bateyunga. Previously, these businesses could simply estimate their taxes.


Bateyunga told Sabahi that about 200,000 taxpayers have been avoiding paying taxes or underpaying, adding that aid from donors has been decreasing, therefore Tanzania must broaden its tax base to fund development. In 2010, when Tanzania introduced ETR machines, tax collection improved by 9.6% for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and 23% for 2011-2012.

“We are implementing phase two, which will bring on board even more tax payers,” she said.


TRA Director for Education and Taxpayer Services Richard Kayombo said the authority decided to roll out ETRs due to the difficulty of monitoring sales from manual receipts, as dishonest businesspersons have been under-declaring their sales or not issuing receipts at all.

“We are now embarking on the massive campaign for people to demand receipts for anything they buy. Even if it is a beer, a soda or a needle worth 10 shillings, get the receipt,” he told Sabahi. “We ask Tanzanians not just to demand receipts, but to make sure they are ETR receipts and they depict the correct amount paid.”

Kayombo said anyone who sells anything without issuing an ETR receipt will risk being fined 3 million shillings ($1,900) on the spot or twice the amount of the tax evaded, which may be more.

TRA Commissioner General Harry Kitilya said that under this second phase, even petrol stations will now be required to issue ETR receipts.

“We have started a pilot project with Engen petrol stations to test our new ETR machines fixed to the pumps,” he told Sabahi. “From now on, when you lift the handle, the machine starts counting how much you have spent. When the handle is returned to the pump, it automatically issues the receipt.”

Under the new system, pumps cannot serve the next customer before issuing a receipt for the preceding customer, he said. Kitilya said that depending on the success of the second phase, the TRA may implement the ETR system to all businesses nationwide to reduce complaints and increase efficiency.

Potian Michael, owner of a welding company in Dar es Salaam, applauded the government’s decision to expand the use of ETR machines. Under the old system, he overpaid because the TRA over-estimated his sales, he said.

AP Media and PR Consult Limited Managing Director Peter Keasi said broadening the tax base is a good idea, but voiced scepticism over the government’s ability to change people’s attitudes.

Tanzanians are not used to demanding a receipt when they purchase goods or services, he said, therefore the campaign to change that must be massive, and the government must ensure that ETR machines truly capture all the daily business activity on market streets.

Source: sabahi

Leveraging Africa’s wealth… for Africa


Leveraging Africa’s wealth… for Africa


30 June 2015

How Avatar Electronic Fiscal Solution can help stem the illicit cash flows that drain Africa of its resources

Evidence suggests that foreign aid may not be the answer to Africa’s poverty problem. Can one really describe as “poor” a continent that enjoys such a wealth of natural resources, even though most of its countries are low-income? South Africa and Guinea, for instance, are among the 15 countries in the world that are sitting on a fortune of metals and minerals[1]. Apart from this leverageable wealth, Africa also has many other resources at its disposal.

The sheer size of the informal sector and the insufficient tax revenues (40% to 60% and 10% to 14% of the GDP respectively) in low income countries show that domestic tax resources could be further leveraged to address most of the continent’s socio-economic development needs. In such countries, the VAT gap, that is to say the difference between the VAT that is due and the VAT that is actually collected, is 50 to 60%, compared to 7-13% in developed countries[2].   Leveraging its own tax resources would therefore allow Africa to considerably increase its tax revenue. This would considerably reduce its dependency on foreign aid.

Tax evasion and other illicit financial flows facilitated through tax havens deprive Africa’s governments of a total of US$35.3 billion every year. This sum would allow the latter to solve many of their problems. Tax fraud and avoidance are greatly facilitated by the lack of control over sales transactions and by the many consumers who neglect to claim their receipts. Both these issues can be traced back to the fact that the tax administration in Africa is mostly paper-based. The modernization of these systems, which entails the implementation of electronic sales-recording methods, is therefore a crucial instrument in the fight against fraud.

As a company specializing in electronic solutions for the optimization of tax compliance and collection, Avatar Technologies recommends a global, holistic approach to this issue. The company’s approach takes into account both the situation and constraints of the African taxpayers and the needs of the tax authorities in terms of monitoring tools.

The Avatar Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFD) solution is well-adapted to the environment of the different African countries. By enabling the authorities to easily access the data they need to counter tax fraud more efficiently, it helps stem the related illicit financial flow exiting the continent. At the same time, it provides African countries with a way of leveraging their own resources to improve their tax revenue and thus to take charge of their own socio-economic future.


Read the whole article: http://www.myafricanow.com/aid-to-africa-from-world/


[1] Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/15-resource-rich-countries-2010-4?op=1

[2] Source: “Supporting the Development of More Effective Tax Systems”. FMI, OCDE, ONU, BM report, 2011

Kenya: KRA revenue collection grows 13.2pc


Kenya: KRA revenue collection grows 13.2pc


17 July 2013

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has announced a 13.2 percent revenue growth of Sh93 billion (overall) and Sh88 billion (Exchequer) in the year 2012/2013 compared to 11.4 percent growth in the previous year.

Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General John Njiraini says Medium and Small Taxpayers segment recorded growth of 20.2 percent, while non-oil imports were affected by subdued growth of 3.8 percent in the value of dry imports. Petroleum taxes increased by 8.5 percent at 67,819 in the year 2012/2013 compared to 2.4 percent at 66,251 in 2011/2012 while trade taxes increased by 22.5 percent to 180,353 in 2012/2013 financial year compared to 171,162 in the previous year. Njiraini said that the number of containers landed for home use declined by 1.1 percent from 182,773 in 2011/12 to 179,340 in 2012/13.

“During the financial year we noted shift of import patterns towards goods of low or zero duty tariffs which may manifest mis-declarations of higher duty goods,” he said.

He said that customs services department has instituted measures to address this problem through targeting of goods entered under low or zero tariff.

“Measures include mandatory verification of containerized goods with declared values falling below defined threshold,” he added.


Njiraini said that non-enactment of the VAT Bill has negatively impacted domestic VAT with an estimated loss of Sh11 billion. He said that professionals need to debate on this important policy to weigh alternative policy choices that may be used to address social concerns such as cost of living. He said that KRA will champion the elimination of discriminatory tax treatments for products having similar characteristics as this has negative impact on tax performance. Njiraini revealed that the Commissioner of Customs has relocated to Mombasa for the next three months to support both port improvement processes but importantly to address bottlenecks in revenue mobilization.

“The most affected segment is large taxpayers where VAT stood at Sh48.3 billion representing a growth of only 2.8 percent.


A project to implement remote transmission of Electronic Tax Registers data has commenced with completion date of December 2013. The process will enable effective monitoring of ETRs to track usage, disconnection and locality, among others. The initiative may also capture data on buyers for the purpose of implementing a customer loyalty programme.

Njiraini revealed that ITax roll out has been concluded and all modules rolled out formal launch expected in early august and mandatory electronic filing will be implemented by September 2013. He also said that mobile payment platform is under development and will roll out by end of July 2013. He also revealed that Kenya was ranked 164th place out of 185 countries in the world in 2013 according to PriceWaterCoopers. On paying taxes, the position worsened from 153 (2011) to 154 (2012).

“Kenya must improve investment climate competitiveness through reform of tax processes,” he said.



Source: Capital FM, Kenya

Enabling the development of Africa by Africa through increased tax revenue


Enabling the development of Africa by Africa through increased tax revenue


8 June 2015

Over the years, African countries have been relying on international aid to finance their national budget and their development. Financial assistance from developed countries may have been justified at a given time, but its disadvantages now seem to outweigh its advantages. It was established that aid funds and revenue collection were inversely proportional and that, generally speaking, the Official Development Assistance was minimal compared to the resources of the countries that benefit from it.

This assessment of the foreign aid situation on the continent may have led Rwandan President Paul Kagame to state, at the opening of the 8th annual meeting of African Economy and Finance Ministers, that Africa should stop relying on developed countries for its development and should instead mobilize its own financial resources. Such a statement implies that the continent has the capacity to finance the greatest portion, if not all, of its development budget, which is indeed the case. National resources constitute the largest pool of funds available to developing countries, mostly through taxes, customs fees and the concession of natural resources.

According to a study presented during the meeting, internal taxes alone bring in more than US$520 billion to African governments each year. This figure may seem satisfactory, but the truth is, it could be a lot higher. Indeed, a great deal of improvement is still needed in terms of tax base in Africa. At 10 to 14% only, the contribution of the developing countries’ tax revenue to the GDP remains far below the 20% recommended by the OECD to allow the States to meet their development goals.

The sheer size of the informal sector and the illicit cash flows traveling from Africa to the other continents (up to US$800 billion per year to the World Bank) are to blame. Tax fraud currently deprives African governments of revenue that, on its own, would allow them to balance their budgets and to finance most of their expenses, while reducing both their debt and their dependence on foreign aid. Shockingly, If tax compliance was efficiently enforced in all African countries, the sum thus collected by the governments would represent 10 times the total aid budget for Africa (source: study by Forum Syd, 2012).

All tax fraudsters in Africa have something in common: they take advantage of the weaknesses of the existing tax systems, which are mostly paper-based. Of course, no country in the world can boast a non-existent level of tax fraud. However, a shift from the Paper Age to the Electronic Era is one of the non-negotiable conditions for truly effective taxation in Africa. In countries where electronic sales recording methods are widely used, the authorities can easily access the data they need to counter tax fraud more efficiently.

The provision of reliable, accurate and real-time tax-related data to the authorities concerned is one of the many advantages of the Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) solution developed by Avatar Technologies for use in the retail sector. The collection of VAT and other taxes indeed remains problematic in this sector.

However, what really makes this solution stand out among other systems of its kind is the fact that it can be adapted to the environment of the different African countries. The EFDs that feed the transactional data to the central platform in real time are affordable, robust, as well as highly autonomous and resilient. Furthermore, the solution provides free access to a Cloud-based accounting application that greatly simplifies the management of invoices and inventories, as well as bookkeeping processes.

These features and characteristics make the solution attractive to traders, and easy for them to adopt, thus putting tax compliance within their reach. But even such an advanced solution will have limited benefits if the consumers omit to demand their receipt after making a purchase. That is why Avatar Technologies has equipped its EFD solution with a VAT lottery component, which automatically enters the customers who ask for a receipt into a lucky draw.  

By providing African tax authorities with the technological means to enforce tax compliance, and to make it both verifiable and controllable, Avatar’s EFD solution contributes to improving the fiscal performance of the States. The increased tax revenue can then be used to realize the vision of a financially independent Africa that is able to meet its own development needs.

Read the whole article: http://www.newsofrwanda.com/featured1/26969/paul-kagame-lafrique-ne-se-developpera-pas-avec-des-capitaux-etrangers-30032015/


Ghana: New VAT rate of 17.5% takes effect


Ghana: New VAT rate of 17.5% takes effect 


10 January 2014

The new Value Added Tax (VAT) rate of 17.5 per cent has taken effect. This followed the presidential assent given to the VAT Act 2013 (Act 870) on December 30, 2013, and its subsequent gazetting the following day. Under the regime, the standard rate which was 12.5 per cent, moves up to 15 per cent, while the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) remains at two-and-half per cent.


Two days into the implementation, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) says reports received from the field indicates that the process has been generally hitch-free.
According to the Commissioner-General of GRA, Mr George Blankson, reports from the Tema Harbour, for instance, indicated that importing companies had configured their figures and were working with the new rates.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, Mr Blankson expressed the hope that registered companies would co-operate to ensure that the nation reaped the expected outcomes from the new rate.

Widening the tax net

One significant aspect of the new VAT rate is the widening of the tax’s scope.
Presenting the 2014 Budget statement to Parliament last November, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Tekper, forcefully advanced arguments to support the need to extend the tax net to include many businesses that were making huge profits but which operated outside the tax net. Consequently, for the first time, companies that manufacture and/or supply pharmaceutical products other than at the retail stage are to pay VAT. Also, gymnasiums and spas, as well as domestic airlines and companies dealing in haulage have also been roped into the tax net.
Although GRA officials could not give ready figures about the number of gymnasiums and spas expected to come under the tax net in the first year, they said they are many.
About two years ago, the GRA attempted charging the gyms and spas VAT, but this was contested in court by one of the entities and the GRA lost the case. The GRA, however, says it is taking advantage of the law to charge the tax now, since it is explicit on the status of gyms and spas. Other entities that were outside the scope but which have now been captured this time include auctioneers, promoters of public entertainment activities, estate developers and operators of financial services which include insurance, life insurance and reinsurance services.
The financial services also included issuing and transferring foreign currency, and operation of a bank account.
Currently there are six domestic airlines operating in the country.


Expatiating on the new VAT rate, the Deputy Commissioner (Policy and Programmes) of GRA, Nii Ayi Aryeetey, said the consultations with stakeholders before the passage of the law had contributed to the smooth take-off of implementation.

“There was a lot of consultation with interest groups for about two years before the law came into force and this has worked well for all of us,” he told the Daily Graphic.

Mr Aryeetey further implored new businesses coming into the tax net that had not registered to contact the nearest GRA offices to do so since the law would not deal leniently with anyone who refused to register.

Western Region

Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu reports from Takoradi that the implementation of the additional 2.5 per cent of the VAT started at the various customs and service points in the Western Region last Wednesday.
While officers and attendants at the various collection points said they received the implementation order late Tuesday and started implementing the new order accordingly, service providers, restaurants and hotels said they were yet to adjust their systems.
Various clearing agents who were in queues at the various points to make payments and clear goods for their clients said they had no option but to pay the new quotations. One of the agents, Charles McCarthy, said there was enough time to sensitise them to the implementation so they were ready to communicate the new rate to their clients.
Hard Choices
Meanwhile, Ghanaians would be forced to make hard choices as prices of household products, groceries and other basic amenities are expected to increase as a result of the implementation the new VAT, Rose Hayford-Darko and Benjamin Xornam Glover report from Tema. A visit to some shops in the port city indicated that while some had started increasing prices of virtually all commodities in line with the new rate, others had not done so on the day the law came into effect.
Madam Mumcy Morrison, Purchasing Manageress at Evergreen Supermarket, told the Daily Graphic that with the coming into force of the new VAT Act, they would be compelled to increase the prices of their goods. Some consumers who also spoke to the Daily Graphic said they would now have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy basic needs for their households and this, coming after the recent hikes in utility tariffs would further worsen their plight.

Freight Forwarders

The President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Mr Joseph Agbaga, speaking on behalf of importers, said the new VAT rate was an additional cost to importers and indicated “as frontliners for importers, we know or feel the pinch more.”

Source: Daily Graphic

Rwanda: Tax compliance will improve with culture change


Rwanda: Tax compliance will improve with culture change


21 January 2014

The Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is right to employ punitive measures to compel people to pay tax.

“No one wants to pay; so the best way is to have punitive mechanisms in place to ensure compliance,” Paul Frobisher Mugambwa, a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers Rwanda (PwC), said.

He, however, noted that this problem is a short-term one which needs culture change to overcome. He said when people understand that paying tax in time is an obligation for any citizen, it will be easy for them to pay taxes. 

Mugambwa was addressing reporters on the challenges RRA has faced on the e-filing and e-billing initiatives it adapted last year on Thursday. He urged the business community to embrace the electronic systems, saying they are more convenient. He lauded the tax body for extending the e-filing and e-billing deadline, arguing that it will help have everyone on board.

“The discussions on how to make it user friendly will come later,” he added. RRA extended the e-filing and e-billing deadline from December 31, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

Mugambwa, however, noted that having deadlines and punitive measures in place is sort of an incentive to ensure total compliance. The e-billing machines are meant to replace manual methods of filing by automatically calculating value added tax (VAT) owed by businesses to RRA, as well as controlling sales and stock by processing and storing invoices. Probably the size of a smart phone, an electronic billing machine comprises two components; a sales data controller, which records every transaction and a certified invoicing system, which provides invoices.
Today, over 800 businesses out of 10,000 registered VAT payers are using them. Several entrepreneurs have expressed their fears of the machines being too expensive; failing to work when there is no electricity or the online methods being too tedious.
RRA targets to collect Rwf795.7b this fiscal year compared to Rwf665.8b last financial year, mainly from creating efficiencies in tax correction.
Source: The New Times

Help Improve Fragile Tax Systems, OECD Tells Donors


Help Improve Fragile Tax Systems, OECD Tells Donors


12 February 2014

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has accused international donors of failing to do enough to help “fragile” states increase their domestic revenue. A new OECD report, “Fragile States 2014: Domestic Revenue Mobilization,” claims that a mere 0.07 percent of official development assistance (ODA) to such countries is directed toward building accountable tax systems. The OECD’s list of fragile states includes the Central African Republic, Haiti, North Korea, and South Sudan; while Egypt, Libya, and Mali have been added so far this year.
This group of 51 countries on average collects less than 14 percent of its gross domestic product in taxes. Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Pakistan have tax collection rates below 10 percent of GDP. The level considered necessary for meeting poverty goals stands at a far higher 20 percent. The amount of international aid allocated to efforts for improving vulnerable tax systems is deemed “near to negligible” when compared with the 18 percent of ODA that goes toward economic infrastructure, the 12 percent spent on health, and the 7 percent on education. “Just a few hundred thousand dollars” of this money is spent on domestic revenue mobilization in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire.
The report should offer “a wake-up call for development cooperation providers,” according to its foreword. Donors ought to encourage states to broaden their tax base, by focusing on direct taxation, and design frameworks to better manage natural resource revenues. The transparency and governance of tax incentives should be improved, and donors are urged to help boost tax morale, by “strengthening the link between revenue collection and responsible expenditure management.”
The OECD will launch a related “Tax Inspectors Without Borders” initiative later this year, to help poor countries combat tax evasion.
Source: Tax News

Rwanda: New RRA Boss Seeks to Increase Tax Base


Rwanda: New RRA Boss Seeks to Increase Tax Base


8 March 2014

The new Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, Richard Tusabe, said his mandate is to attract more businesses into the tax base in order to propel government’s goal of self-reliance.
Tusabe, who until recently served as the deputy Commissioner General of RRA, took over from Ben Kagarama, who has headed the institution since 2011. During the handover ceremony yesterday, Tusabe said RRA’s main challenge is to attract all the 120,000 businesses operating in Rwanda into the tax base.

“I will focus on encouraging more taxpayers into compliance. This is the area that remains weak within the institution and my focus will be to improve it,” Tusabe said. “Only 20 per cent of the businesses in Rwanda are registered for tax. Even then, their active ratio is low, at 48 per cent. A lot of work, therefore, needs to be done to encourage businesses to register formerly, as well as follow up to ensure that they are compliant,” he added.


Tusabe commended the work of outgoing Commissioner General, Ben Kagarama, and said he will focus on continuity and innovation, to ensure efficiency in tax collection.

“There has been growth in the tax base over the years although many businesses choose to remain in the informal sector. We know that this is because of the cost of tax compliance which most of them prefer to avoid. That is why we introduced innovations like electronic tax payment, which enables someone to pay tax on their phone,” Tusabe said. “Before such innovations, people used to travel from as far as Gahini to Rwamagana, which is almost an hour’s drive, to pay taxes. Such inconveniences have been eliminated and we need to encourage even those who do not know about these innovations to come forward.”


At the handover ceremony, the Minister for Finance, Claver Gatete, said the tax base is lower than what is required to ensure Rwanda’s self-reliance. He pledged to support RRA’s new boss in his quest for improvement.

“Even if we had all the 120,000 businesses paying tax, we still believe they are not enough to drive Rwanda’s development ambitions. However, RRA has done a great job by combining education, innovation and enforcement to ensure that the tax base grows,” Gatete said.


Rwanda ranks number 22 on the paying tax indicator in World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2014, having improved by three positions in the previous report.
Source: The New Times, Rwanda

United Kingdom e-Government success: 5 principles


United Kingdom e-Government success: 5 principles


13 March 2014

Since 2010 , UK has taken bold steps in modernising its public service and its successes are well known – it is now on track to becoming the “most digital government” in the G8 by 2015. UK’s Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, believes that governments around the world are facing similar changes – tight budgets, rising expectations and low growth.

“So we need a new paradigm for government services – one that delivers better services, focused on user needs, at much lower cost, in a way that supports economic growth.”


Digital technology is an absolutely crucial part of the future of government services, although there are many other ingredients too, notes Maude. He shared five principles that have characterised UK’s government modernisation journey and which he believes should characterise productive, effective and successful governments, now and in future.


1. Open government

Transparency can be extremely uncomfortable – open data exposes waste and taxpayers are able to see exactly how their money is spent.

“But this sharpens accountability and informs choice over public services. And combined with ever increasing technological capability, it will ultimately create more accountable, efficient and effective governments,” Maude said.

2. Tight centralised control

Tight control from the centre over common activities – like IT, procurement, management information, property and oversight of major projects – reduces costs and encourages collaborative working, continued Maude. He believes that governments have been lacking a strong corporate centre for far too long.

The UK Government created the Efficiency and Reform Group that “works across artificial departmental boundaries to implement cross government solutions to cross government problems”.

Governments should run more like the best-run businesses, with every penny of taxpayers’ money used to maximum effect.

3. Loose control

Tight control over the centre must be matched by looser control over operations, noted Maude. He suggests that spin-offs and commissioning of services outside the public sector should become the norm.

“Public service mutuals, joint ventures and charitable enterprises are attractive alternatives to the old binary choice between delivering services in-house or full red-blooded privatisation.”

This frees public sector workers to do their job as they know best, and combined with entrepreneurialism, this can be an incredible force.

“It’s part of a mindset which elevates the service that the public receives above the structure that delivers it,” he said.

4. Digital

Maude’s fourth principle is: if a service can be delivered online, then it should be delivered only online. This is the approach that the UK Government has taken to transform its 25 largest transactional government services to make them simpler, clearer, faster and designed around the users’ needs.

UK’s digital-by-default agenda advocates “creating digital services that are so straightforward that all those who can use them will choose to do so, and those who can’t are given the support they need”, Maude explained.

He emphasised that building digital services is an iterative process – building and testing in small chunks and working quickly to make improvements along the way, with continuous feedback and refinements. By committing to open standards and open source software, governments can also create a more open market for IT suppliers, increasing competition, lowering licensing costs and advancing innovation.

5. Innovation

New models of delivery, new digital services and a new attitude – all these require the right skills and culture within public service.

“Public servants must be given the flexibility to try sensible and innovative ideas,” Maude said.

Risk, when managed properly, can be pioneering and transformative. And the real mistake is to never try anything new in the first place or to continue doing something that is not working.

“So we need a culture that is more open and less bureaucratic, focused on the delivery of outcomes rather than the process or the structures.”

 Civil servants should feel able to challenge the status quo and they should be equipped with the commercial, digital and leadership skills they need to do their jobs and to be accountable for what they believe. The race for a more effective and efficient government has no finishing line, Maude points out.

“The work of making government more efficient never ends. I stress that we did not start with these principles – but with the practice of making changes to test what worked and what didn’t. These principles are distilled from that practice and experience. I think they can be of widespread application for all governments of all origins. We all face the same challenges and we can all learn from each other’s experiences.”


Source: futuregov