By Dhahabu Writer
Kenya has received global recognition from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), following its appointment of James Karanja, a career Kenyan tax administrator to lead the recently established Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) Secretariat.
The TIWB, is a global scope initiative, that was launched mid last year at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to help developing countries bolster domestic revenues by strengthening their tax audit capacities through ‘learning by doing’ targeted tax audit assistance. Tax audit experts will work alongside local officials of developing country tax administrations to help strengthen tax audit capacities, including issues concerning international tax matters.
As part of the ongoing TIWB institutional setup, in Paris, France, the OECD has picked Mr. Karanja, the current Head, International Tax Office at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to lead the TIWB’s Secretariat, with effect from April 1 2016 as the first Head of Secretariat. The TIWB Secretariat, supported by an oversight board of stakeholders, will operate as a clearing house to match the demand for auditing assistance with appropriate expertise. The Secretariat, composed of OECD and UNDP staff and based at the OECD in Paris, will also facilitate full-time or periodic deployment of experts.
Speaking, when he announced the appointment, KRA, Commissioner General, John Njiraini, said the picking of a youthful Kenyan to head a global tax body speaks volumes of the growing positive repute that KRA, continues to enjoy among its international peers.
As part of a national commitment to support International Tax administration efforts, Kenya recently, joined the league of 93 global nations; united to address the economic vices by signing the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
The high profile appointment, Mr. Njiraini, noted, now, serves as a tribute to Kenya’s growing commitment to develop world-class tax administration personnel at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration (KESRA), which is the only national Customs and Tax academic institution mandated to train Revenue Administration officers.
“This high profile appointment is a strong affirmation of KRA’s credentials globally as a highly professional organization. The appointment is expected to cement KRA’s co-operation with the OECD which goes back as far as 2008 when Kenya commenced on a very productive and still active capacity building engagement on transfer pricing. This platform continues to provide the Authority valuable insights into global tax policy developments as formulated by OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration,” Mr Njiraini said.
Mr. Karanja joined the Authority in the Graduate Trainee Program in 2003 and has served the KRA in various capacities including as a Transfer Pricing Tax Analyst, Policy Adviser in the KRA Domestic Tax Department Policy Unit, Prosecutor and Project Manager handling KRA reform projects all of which will enable him serve with distinction in his upcoming assignment at the OECD. Mr Karanja has also been instrumental in leading Kenya’s compliance with the international standards with exchange of information and signing of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.He has also served with distinction as Chair of the Africa Tax Administration Technical Committee responsible for the Africa global tax agenda and the BEPS project on behalf of Kenya and Africa Tax Administration Forum within the OECD G20 BEPS project.
On his part, Mr. Karanja, while welcoming the appointment said
“I am delighted at the prospect of taking up this very strategic opportunity to channel resources towards helping strengthen audit and inspection capacities of developing countries tax administrations in need of expertise in key areas vital to our interests including auditing of cross border transactions, including mining and natural resources taxation which are novel areas for KRA.”
An Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, Mr. Karanja, holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi and due to conclude his Masters in Public Policy and Management at Strathmore Business School. He also possesses various professional diplomas and certificates including CIAT Transfer Pricing Advanced Diploma, Prince II Project Management, Arbitration, Revenue and Customs Administration.
Kenya is expected to be among the first invitees to the new inclusive framework proposed by the OECD for the global implementation of the BEPS project set to be launched in Kyoto Japan on June 30 – July 1. The BEPS, framework will provide for global tax rule setting and implementation on an equal footing by all participating countries.