Rwanda’s Total Tax Revenue Collection Is Barely Higher Than Foreign Aid

By David Himbara

General Paul Kagame is said to have built a resilient economy during the past 24 years. The lead article in the New Times of September 30, 2018, boasted of “rising tax revenues” which supposedly “reflect resilient economy.” A quick fact-check shows that this is pure fantasy. Rwanda remains a banana republic as the data from the Rwanda Revenue Authority’s Annual Activity Report 2016/17 indicates.

  • In 2016/2017, total revenue collections in Rwanda (including tax, non-tax, and local government taxes/fees) was RWF1,150.7 billion. This is equivalent to US$1.3 Billion.
  • By comparison, in 2016, Rwanda received US$1.1 Billion in foreign aid. In other words, foreign aid to Rwanda is almost the same amount as the total revenue collection from within.
  • With a population of 12 million, the total number of taxpayers in Rwanda was 177,564 as of end June 2017.
  • Of 177,564 registered taxpayers, 176,417 are small or micro taxpayers — which is 99.4% of the total. Small taxpayers are defined as any businesses with turnover between RWF12 million (US$13,834) and RWF50 million (US$57,637) per year. In other words, 99.4% of Rwandan businesses have an annual turnover of US$57,637 or less.
  • Only 372 taxpayers are categorised as “large” which is 0.2% of the total of Rwandan taxpayers.
  • 775 are categorized as “medium taxpayers” — 0.4% of the total.
  • The total number of vehicles registered in Rwanda by the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year was 179,799.

Dear The New Times, what we see here is not a resilient economy. Try another lie.