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Togo: African Development Bank provides $29 million for tax and customs modernization
Tuesday 1 October 2019. The Togolese Revenue Authority (OTR), the professional development institute, is officially opening its doors. There are 60 students in its first cohort, of whom half will specialize in customs and the other half in taxation.
Supported by two projects benefiting from $28.9 million in funding from the African Development Bank, Togo is mobilizing significant resources to transform its tax and customs administration.
"Dual-skilled officers will be able to work in both customs and taxation," explained Halirou Djobo, coordinator of the fiscal governance support project (PAGFI). The course will last nine months including a six-day observation placement and a four-week summation internship and will be consist of both theoretical and practical work.
Designed to strengthen fiscal management and the fight against fraud and corruption, the PAGFI will also serve to improve the business climate in Togo through a more effective tax system and a more competitive autonomous port of Lomé. The African Development Bank granted $23.3 million in financial assistance for this project in 2016.
"As well as opening the institute, we have set up an integrated tax system and interconnected services across the country. Of 55 locations in the country, 52 are connected by optical fibre," Halirou Djobo announced while in a data centre full of new generation servers acquired under the project. Djobo added that the digitization of the tax system is being achieved in Togo:
"We have raised taxpayers' awareness as part of these initiatives. This has created a general momentum for voluntary tax returns. And we have established a customs response unit."
The resource mobilization and institutional capacity building support project (PAMOCI) was deployed to prepare the ground for the PAGFI project. Benefiting from $7.5 million in funding from the African Development Bank, this project built the technical and human capacity of the Togolese tax and customs administration. Its goal was to increase tax revenues from 16.9% of GDP in 2013 to 20% in 2018, and mining revenues from 4.8% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2018.
"In three years, we have trained 4,300 people, including 863 senior OTR staff, on the fight against fraud and in staff performance evaluation, and we now have 78 accounting officers working in national public establishments on double-entry book-keeping. And we have equipped and connected decentralized financial inspection offices," added Ogbone Oniankitan, the PAMOCI coordinator.
This project has also strengthened the capacity of the Togolese national volunteering agency (ANVT), a body that recruits, trains and integrates unemployed young people. When it started in 2015, it worked with 500 young people; there are now 4,824 volunteers who have benefited from the services of the ANVT, including 500 with permanent employment.
"These two initiatives perfectly illustrate the leveraging achievable from strengthening the governance of public finances," said Georges Bohoussou, the Bank's country representative for Togo.
Bohoussou said Togo had witnessed a substantial and sustained improvement in revenues, with an average annual growth rate of 7.1% for the period 2014-2017. "The increased revenue mobilization has enabled Togo to grow the share of its capital expenditure financed from its own resources, increasing the ratio from 19.1% in 2013 to 32% in 2016, well above the WAEMU [West African Economic and Monetary Union] norm of 20%."