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URA apologizes for video showing staff abandoning clients

A screen grab of the video

A screen grab of the video

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has offered an apology to Ugandans after a video emerged showing their staff celebrating a colleague’s birthday as several clients stood in queue waiting to be served.

The 46-second video posted on Facebook by a one Michael Ssuuna on Saturday at 8.51 am shows abandoned tills and several clients standing in the queue bewildered by what is happening. In the video, URA staff can be heard singing birthday songs and merrymaking with their colleague unperturbed by the long queues.

"Is it really OK for government workers celebrate birthday parties during working hours [when] taxpayers are in the line waiting to be served? Oh God have mercy upon Uganda. Wasting people's time and Money, URA mwebereremu (loosely translated self-reflect). It's too much of disrespect to Ugandans." Ssunna posted. 

The incident is a slap in the face for the organization that claims to value customers first and seeks to make it as easy as possible for Ugandans to pay their taxes. 

“We deeply apologize to our clients for this unfortunate experience. We are investigating this matter,” the tax body said in a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday. 

“URA is a client-focused and responsive organization and this is not the URA way. We assure our clients, great customer experience always. It is because of you that we exist.” the statement further said. 

The video portrays inefficiency for an organization that seeks to grow tax revenues to fund a budget that runs in deficits every year. When she took office in 2015, URA commissioner general Doris Akol promised to use a mixture of carrot and stick to get people to pay taxes. It appears like the stick is missing on the URA staff side.

"As a civil servant, am disappointed in my colleagues at URA. I expect world class customer service, better customer experience and above all, better standards from staff and workers at URA. How do you take such leisurely breaks while u have hundreds of customers waiting in line to be served. The commissioner general at URA and [Corporate] Affairs team shd hold some one accountable for this flagrant neglect and derelict of duty of service owed to the public." wrote Dalton Odomoch Raymond. 

Although some commentators defended the staff claiming it was during the lunch break, Ssunna posted the video metadata showing that the video was taken on August 2, 2019 at 11:11:27am.

"To imagine they have respect pinned up in their office on some wall!! [shock emojis] this is total disrespect and wastage of tax payers time!!! After all the taxes they charge us!! Imagine being there in line waiting to be worked on as if the idiots can’t wait for after work hours to cut cake!! Eeeeh ura mwedekko bambi tuswaala [URA please have some shame]." Jackie Angelyn Lupiyaziita wrote. 


0 #1 pat 2019-08-05 00:19
In my opinion. re-asign the staff or fire them.

I keep visiting URA offices and I am not surprised listening to them rudely tell Ugandans (their employer's) go to the web portal.

If they had any manners they should first explain the meaning of their words to make it easier.
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0 #2 Lakwena 2019-08-05 08:01
If Mr. M7 who is the head of state is self-serving, and categorically told the country, saying:

“I’m not an employee. I hear some people saying that I’m their servant; I’m not a servant of anybody. I’m a freedom fighter. That is why I do what do; I’m fighting for myself, for my belief; that’s how I come in. If anybody thinks you gave me a job, he is deceiving himself. I’m just a freedom fighter whom you thought could help you also.”

what can stop public servants (URA staff) from doing exactly what the president does (self-service). How can such a president put to order professionally wayward public servant?
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0 #3 Lakwena 2019-08-05 08:13
In other words, in Uganda public/civil service ended in 1986.

Go to Japan, the UK and the US as see what public service is: you become green with envy.

E.g., if you go to the City/Town Hall, the Post Office etc. for something/help; even if you are an alien/foreigner, you are immediately attended to or politely told to hold on.
Therefore as member of the public, you are treated with respect and feel good even if the service is delayed.

But Ugandans we are the servants and slaves, treated with disdain as we break our backs in order to pay taxes; only to be stolen and spent on opulence and celebrating staff birthdays.

As if that is not enough Ugandans are even being traded on the stock market in the Middle East. Eish!
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0 #4 Ugthinker 2019-08-05 13:06
URA staff are like some small gods of some sort! Too arrogant. Taxpayers are treated like beggars, at worst criminals!

Then there’s this connivance between URA staff and Clearing Agents. They together have taxed many of us out of business in Uganda.

Some of us had to redirect our merchandise to other countries. One wonders how that helps anyone!

URA staff need to climb down their high horses otherwise taxing people out of business is a sure way way to halt the economy quickly.
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-1 #5 Jackline 2019-08-05 13:08
Check out the URA staff at the main Post office! they are worse. they report at their own time and then make customers beg to serve them.

i wonder what kind of customer care is in URA.
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+1 #6 Jackline 2019-08-05 13:35
There is no customer care in URA. Management should check the Post office branch staff, they are very arrogant and work at their own will.

you present the parcel at the table and they pretend like they haven't seen you untill you call them to serve you!! Oh Uganda , once a pearl of Africa, now a dustbin!!
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0 #7 Mr X 2019-08-05 16:29
Thats what they usually do, usually they say that its "network" failure.

I try to do business in the informal sector so that i dont have to encounter with corrupt URA officials.
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0 #8 WADADA roger 2019-08-05 19:47
This is the trend everywhere, in some offices, you find employees focusing their attention on social media and while customers or clients are waiting to be served.
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+1 #9 Pamela 2019-08-05 20:22
The only time URA is really active and 100% awake is when they are hounding the tax payer to pay his/her taxes.
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+1 #10 kabayekka 2019-08-06 09:28
One understands that these bureaucrats do not have any Christian bonus in the bible as the story of Zakayo goes.

Their type of work is very stressful where they work hard for the ruling class who demand heavy taxes day and night from very poor communities, as they make a happy birthday tax cut for themselves as well.
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