Treasury denies hiring firm to collect eCitizen revenue

Kenya News:

The Treasury has disowned a firm contracted to collect revenue from eCitizen users, deepening the mystery of how a private company took over the role of Kenya Revenue Authority.

Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge has in fresh court papers said the government did not authorise a private firm to receive the payments.

Goldrock Capital has sued the Treasury and Webmasters Kenya, which developed the online portal, for denying it access to the website’s mobile money (M-Pesa) paybill number 206206, which receives millions of shillings every day.

REVENUE
Since 2014, Goldrock has collected more than Sh5.6 billion under the eCitizen platform, through which the government provides essential services such as applications for passports, driving licences, business registration, motor vehicle logbooks and title deeds.

The portal was developed in 2013 with funding from the World Bank’s private lending arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) and others.

Safaricom, owners of M-Pesa mobile money platform, has been enjoined in the suit.

KRA is the primary agency authorised by law to collect revenue for the government and any other would require Parliament’s approval or appointment by the Treasury.

UNAUTHORISED
Dr Thugge says the Treasury only authorised Webmasters to train government officers to handle the portal and any contract to hire a firm to collect revenue was null and void.

Dr Thugge says in his response: “I am aware that Goldrock Capital is not authorised by the National Treasury CS to collect revenue for and on behalf of the government.”

Goldrock says it was subcontracted by Webmasters Africa Limited on behalf of Webmasters Kenya Ltd.

But Webmasters Kenya says it has no relationship with Webmasters Africa and has never hired Goldrock to collect revenue from the eCitizen platform.

CONTRACT
Despite the denial, however, court records indicate that Webmasters Kenya CEO James Ayugi doubles as Webmasters Africa’s managing director.

In Webmasters Africa’s replying affidavit, Mr Ayugi admits that the firm subcontracted Goldrock to collect money paid to the eCitizen platform but the deal would expire in the event that the government issued a binding directive relating to the payment portal.

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