ERS Reports Record Tax Revenue Growth and Debt Reduction

By Phiwa Sikhondze

The Eswatini Revenue Service’s (ERS) 2023 Annual Report has revealed that the Revenue Service recorded the highest tax revenue growth since 2017/18, despite missing its target by 2%.

According to the report, ERS collected E12.037 billion in tax revenues in the 2022/23 financial year, an increase of 11.6% from the previous year. This was higher than the 6.0% nominal GDP growth projected by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) and the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development (MEPD).

The ERS attributes the high tax revenue growth to its efforts to improve customer service and implement effective revenue improvement initiatives. The ERS also reduced its debt stock by 20.8%, from E9.171 billion at the beginning of the year to E7.422 billion at the end of the year.

However, the tax revenue collection for the year was 2% below the target, coming in at E12.037 billion against a target of E12.323 billion. This may indicate a need for further tax reforms or improvements in tax collection efforts.

The ERS also revealed its strategic plan for 2021/22 – 2023/24, that aims to achieve “100% voluntary compliance for a better Kingdom of Eswatini” and become a “Digitalized and Data Driven Organization; with our Partners.” The ERS said it prioritized programmes that laid the foundation for the digitalization of the customs and tax value chain and expected to improve collaboration with ecosystem partners, adopt a data-driven decision-making culture, and simplify compliance processes for its clients.

The ERS acknowledged the support and assistance it received from its international and regional partners, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Global Forum, the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Korean Customs, and others.

In his statement, the ERS Commissioner General, Brightwell Nkambule expressed his optimism for the future and thanked the employees, the Governing Board, the Honourable Minister for Finance, and His Majesty’s Government for their commitment and support.

He also pledged on behalf of the ERS team to continuously improve revenue mobilization and trade facilitation through simplified processes, world-class customer service, and effective client education, guided by its values of integrity, innovation, transparency, and performance excellence.

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