Constraints to Optimising Revenue Potential in Subnational Governments in Kenya: Lessons from Nairobi City County
Author: Alex Oguso
Affiliations: Manager – Research & Tax Modelling, Strategy Innovation and Risk Management Department, Kenya Revenue Authority
Source: African Multidisciplinary Tax Journal, 2022 Issue 1, p. 155-178
Optimisation of revenue potential in the subnational governments in Kenya is core to meeting the their recurrent and development expenditure needs without overrelying on national government transfers. However, the subnational governments face constraints that limit their potential to enhance their revenue collections. Therefore, this study examines the constraints to own source revenue (OSR) collections in Nairobi City County (NCC), assesses challenges to optimal collection of parking fees, and identifies measures to address the challenges inherent to the collection of single business permits (SBPs) debts in the county. The study employed desk review and survey design targeting 170 key informants from the NCC Government and the Kenya Revenue Authority distributed across the 17 sub-counties. The study found that the major constraints to OSR collection in the NCC are inadequate revenue collection tools, equipment and machines (82%); inadequate capacity of the debt collection unit to follow taxpayers who default or delay in making payments (68%); poor tax education/awareness within the county (63%); below par adoption of information and communications technology systems combined with the prevalence of manual revenue collection in making payments (58%); inadequate staff numbers to collect the fees and charges (53%); and lack of legal framework (policies, rules and regulations) for collection of all the revenue streams (51%). The study also found that the main challenges to optimal collection of parking fees in the NCC are high parking fees; system failure; insecurity; unmarked parking lots; interference by parking boys; lack of parking spaces, among others. The study makes suggestions for addressing the challenges in the collection of SBPs debts and provides comprehensive recommendations on dealing with the identified constraints to revenue optimisation in the NCC, applicable to other subnational governments across sub-Saharan Africa.