The research carried out regarding arrears of Revenue of the Vavuniya Urban Council (Vavuniya UC) under the project Local Government Economic Governance ( LEG) implemented by Vavuniya UC in co- ordination with the Asia Foundation revealed that a sum of Rs. 36 million remained as arrears in Assess- ment Tax for the past several years and the arrears has been increasing annually. As increase in Miscellaneous Revenue also was observed, the techniques for the recovery of arrears were recommended. In particular, it was decided to recover the arrears in Assessment Tax and the collection process was started with the declaration of September and October as the months for Revenue Collection and the appointing of special groups. For this purpose, 6 groups were appointed under the leadership of 6 Officers. These staff were provided with caps with UC emblem and they were instructed to wear the official identity cards compulsorily in order for easy identification as UC staff. It helped them for the identification as UC staff and to gain trust of the Public. The six groups included an Administrative Officer, an Officer from the Assessment Tax Section, Detaining Officer and a Police Officer.
Prior to the collection of Assessment Tax and Miscellaneous Revenue, awareness programmes had been conducted for the Public in respect of the activities of this special project – the Month for Collection of Revenue. Leaflets in this regard were printed and distributed to the taxpayers and notices were given
through Local Newspapers. This arrangement facilitated the tax payers to be aware in advance about the activities of the UC regarding the collection of tax arrears and to be prepared accordingly. Further, banners containing the details were displayed in public places and announcements were made through places of worship and public address system arranged by the UC.
15000 notices regarding the project were printed, distributed house-to house in all wards and signatures obtained as acknowledgement.
Necessary data were collected in the Office level for these special activities Of Collection Of Arrears Of Revenue Month. Based on these data, a plan was designed for the collection of arrears Of Revenue. Activities had been started after collecting the basic details such as the ward wise arrears of Assessment Tax, past records Of Assessment Tax Of individuals and their arrears Of Assessment Tax etc; First, second and final notices were served under UC Ordinance to those who were in arrears Of Assessment Tax, prior to this collection process.
According to the ward wise reports on arrears of tax, a group was appointed to each ward and the amount to be collected and the time limit were given to those groups. They had to visit house-to-house
and recover the arrears Of Assessment Tax within the prescribed time limit. These groups visited house-to-house, met the residents, explained regarding the Assessment tax and recovered the arrears. Official Receipts were issued on the spot.
The participation of all Staff, the Heads of Staff working together with other Staff and motivating them by visiting the relevant places were the specialty in this Month of Collection of Arrears of Revenue.
The Offcers gained various experiences in these 28 days and they came to know about the extent of understanding Of the Public regarding the Assessment Tax and the reason for the failure Of the Public to pay the Tax in time. Also, they were able to directly understand the opinion Of the Public regarding the UC, the accuracy about particular properties and several other facts.
30 Staff had participated in this Month of Collection of Arrears. It is very much appreciable that they have worked and completed their task within the prescribed time limit with enthusiasm, irrespective of sun and rain. Generally, the Detaining Officers are appointed on contract basis in the Local Authorities to collect taxes and they are paid 15% – 20% commission on the recovery. This system is adopted in all Local Authorities.
In this Month, the Group went house-to house from 9.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. daily and recovered the arrears of Assessment Tax and Miscellaneous Revenue. An average of Rs. 0.86 million was recovered daily in the arrears of Assessment Tax alone. Totally a sum of Rs. 6.9 million was collected as arrears of Assessment Tax within 30 days. A sum Of Rs. 8 million was recovered as Miscellaneous Revenue. These figures correspond upto October 2014. It could be considered as a remarkable event and attempt by the personnel of Local Authorities in the history of Local Authorities of Srilanka. It is a laudable event in Vavuniya UC that many female officers participated in this project with full hope and commitment which
could be an example to other Local Authorities.
The recovery process resulted in 21.5% Of recovery in the arrears Of total taxes in that, 17% from mid September up to the end of that month and 59% in October and the remittance direct at the Office was 24%. Out of the ward wise arrears of Rs.81 mn, Rs. 0.9 mn was recovered which amounted to 11.6% Of the total arrears. It is notable that out Of the arrears Of Rs.25mnin ward-I, Rs.l mn had been recovered which amounts to 39%. Major portion of the arrears of Assessment Tax had been recovered in wards 1, 2,5,7,10 and 11.