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.