Automation of Revenue Collection by MMDAs

Over the years, proper revenue collection by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) has been identified as one of the major determinants to how best an Assembly is organized and developed.

Per the provisions of Sections 97 and 98 of the Local Government Act (Act 462), the MMDAs are mandated to mobilize resources for development through fee-fixing, which embodies rates, licencing, lands, fees and fines.

In as much as this is a required duty of the various MMDAs, the big question has always been, what have these MMDAs been doing over the years? The debate of revenue mobilization has always centered on whether it should be done in-house (manual), outsourced (automation), or a combination of the two.

For any Assembly to match in performance with the development, growth and expectations of its people, it must dramatically increase its fiscal depth without incurring costly recurring overheads. Therefore, accelerated development rests on adequate revenue mobilization.

Revenue mobilization is one of the key factors for economic development of the MMDAs and this links into the Assembly’s agenda on social well-being, poverty reduction, economic development of Assemblies and the citizens.

Regrettably however, most MMDAs continue to engage revenue collection by using the manual system, which has invariably been beset with motley of challenges and thus affecting the developmental agenda of the Assemblies.

With the manual system in revenue collection management, rate-payers can decide to pay their rates directly to the collectors at their door step. They do not also lose transactional time of going to the payment point or bank. However, they stand to be exposed to the risk of fake Government Receipt and diversion of funds by the collector which can eventually lead to double billing in the subsequent year, if it is uncovered.

In spite of the fact that some people still believe in the manual collection system, others are completely automating, while some still engage in half automation and half manual because they reduce the automation to building database only, without being mindful of the sources of the data. Thus, they are left with mobilizing their revenue through various mobile collection agents who bring in data for the sake of it. Their interest of course is primarily not to build database but to get some commission on revenue collected instantaneously.   In the short run, the money collected might be deceitfully huge, trickle in faster and also appear as most convenient as compared to a complete automated environment where banks and other payment points shall be introduced. Please note in good faith that the benefit largely outweighs that of a manual environment.

There has always been the situation where the rate-payers feel reluctant because they claim that there is no proper accountability as to how monies collected as rates are disbursed or used for developmental projects. It is sad to note that over the past years, monies paid to the Assemblies had not been a true reflection of what was collected. This was due to lack of comprehensive database of ratable property; insufficient control system or mechanism in the collection chain; inadequate use of ICT; and lack of collaboration between the assembly and the service provider which should reflect true partnership.

There is also the problem of full-proof receipting; evasion by rate-payers; collusion between rate-payers and collectors; inadequate information on rate-payers (street naming and house numbering). All these come as a result of manual system or a combination of both manual and automation. Mistakenly paying to touts, the likelihood of double billing, forged receipting, under carbon & pulling of General Counterfoil Receipts (GCRs), duplication of receipts, diversion of funds, collusion with payers, and these have over the years affected the revenue potential of the Assemblies.

No matter how one will go about it, manual collection can never match with automation system, which is also known as computerization or mechanization. Revenue automation helps to reduce the cost of collection at the medium and long term basis and as such reduce leakages in revenue collection management. It helps the MMDAs in diverse ways, leading to proper development because of an increased revenue mobilization.

Automated revenue systems have been proven to be capable of introducing massive efficiencies to business processes that can result in increased revenue for the Assemblies. With the use of automation, there is a significant improvement in revenue collection at the MMDAs connected to the system, through plugging of most sources of revenue leakage, and transparency of operations is enhanced.

Automated revenue system helps to improve revenue mobilization. It is based on the electronic payment system through applications such as toll revenue collection, automatic fare collection, bus revenue system and parking system. Additionally, by automating revenue collection, service providers have better audit trail since all transactions captured can be detailed by time, whom and where. This prevents revenue loss through abuses as all transactions are recorded electronically.

In a bid to ensure effective and efficient revenue collection, RevNet Limited, a Ghanaian information technology consultant which provides management and financial support services; and revenue collection management that seeks to tailor revenue tracking, monitoring and collection management service that would meet the Assemblies’ requirements in a least-cost, low risk and most responsive manner has come on board by partnering some MMDAs, using the Electronic Banking System of Revenue Cycle Management (EBS-RCM).

The EBS-RCM used by RevNet Ltd is aimed at going on-line with the Direct Bank Lodgment System (DBLS) of the revenue collection process. It provides information for rate administration and planning while monitoring and coordinating of all revenue generating activities of the Assembly.

It is a sophisticated information network system linking the Assembly & other Revenue Agencies to banks in a designated assembly account. It uses the e-Pay application to capture rate-payment and consolidates banks account balances through messaging system for inter-bank communications by creating and maintaining a database of all revenue collection activities, thus allowing for on-line tracking.

The EBS-RCM by RevNet Ltd. runs a full cycle of revenue collection management system. It easily captures, organizes and authenticates payer details. The system also runs a full cycle for revenue monitoring, reporting, reconciliation, and verification to inherited data through enumeration, billing using assessed rate by the assembly or its agents, issuance of automated receipt and information for enforcement processes.

The objectives of the EBS-RCM in management of revenue system of the Assemblies are to increase total revenue collection; reduce the cost of collection by the Assembly; structure and perfect the tax-payer data for effective budgeting and revenue mobilization and reduce over reliance of the MMDAs on grants from the central governments; employ the services of experts for the purposes of widening the revenue-base and to explore other potential sources; create employment outside the government/public set-up,; and stakeholders awareness campaign.

As part of its services, RevNet provides the Electronic Payment Clearance Cards, popularly known as E-PCC, which identifies all rate-payers with individual Assemblies. This means that rate-payers within the catchment areas will no longer pay monies directly to unaccredited mobile revenue collectors on the field but pay through an EBS-RCM platform.

The e-PCC bears the name and photo of the rate payer as well as the Assembly where he has a relationship with. It also features a biometric chip which enables it to store all transactional history with the Assembly. It serves as a back-up for receipts and bills that have been served the rate-payer.

RevNet provides high quality integrated and scalable solutions to its clients. It is dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions to public and private sector institutions, businesses, and enterprises through leading – cutting edge technology.

RevNet also has the comparative advantage of fully automating its revenue mobilization processes. Its direction is to partner the MMDAs to automate the collection process. By that, they are looking at increasing the number of persons who voluntarily upon receiving their bills will go to either the accredited banks, pay points, cash offices with required infrastructure to pay.

One can confidently say that in areas where RevNet has been operating, there has been a rise in the revenue generation, which is paving the way for massive infrastructural development. There is every hope that with the trend at which RevNet is helping to track the revenue leakages, these Assemblies would in the near future boast of being among the best MMDAs in the country.

At the Assemblies where they fully operate the automation system, RevNet Ltd has continuously been making inroads in the elimination of collection challenges such as evasion, and collusion with collectors. It establishes inter-connectivity among stakeholders (collectors, participating banks, Assembly and RevNet) and seeks to identify areas requiring improvements to be addressed in the short, medium and long term in MMDAs’ IGF operations. From statistical point of view, only 55 per cent of rate-payers actually pay their rates to MMDAs, 30 per cent of these rate-payers willingly walk to the cash offices of the Assemblies to pay. While another 50 per cent can be persuaded to comply with the automation drive through education and advertisement. The remaining 20 per cent can be regarded as the recalcitrant and can be brought to the tax net through compliance and by enforcement.

With automation, the MMDAs stand to gain more compared to the existing manual system. This would significantly improve the revenue collection by blocking leakages in the revenue collection chain because the automation will ensure proper accountability, reliability of data, and embedded control mechanisms. In addition, effective and efficient budgeting can be achieved.

The agitation posture of the Assembly staff that is averse to change will be a major challenge in the implementation of the automation system across the MMDAs. By the overwhelming inclusive programme that gives reasonable level of assurances that, the automation system will only increase their productivity rather than seen as a threat to their means of livelihood and this can only be achieved through continuous education and workshops. This is because the role of the Assembly staff is vital to the success of the system.

Tate-payers can equally make prepayment with the card ahead of time, without waiting for the bills to come, since the card captures information of the payer and can be validated. The enrollment of the e-PCC and it trail process are in place in all areas of our operation.

The MMDAs need to be collaborated and encouraged with all legislative apparatus to increase the level of compliance of payers to MMDAs call as they go in for automation, and cautioned that there was no way they should mix automation with manual, otherwise, the end result will be the old story.

The best way to go is to collectively and legislatively agree that the system of revenue collection is through a registered bank or accredited pay points or accredited pre-paid agents and also government at the higher level should encourage the MMDAs by legislating that the provision of all social and other services be linked to the relationship and compliance with the MMDAs approved levies.

In his submission, the key success factors of this  laudable initiative will be, apart from the afore mentioned, the need to get the banks, government, traditional leaders, market queens, property and business owners ‘BUY IN’ to enhance development of the areas, and as such, MMDAs that have not yet been automated should embrace this system. There is therefore the need for public awareness and enforcement to encourage rate payer to patronize accredited pay points and get electronic cards.

Assemblies and rate-payers do not incur any additional cost for e-PCC (Electronic Payment Clearance Card) as the services is provided by RevNet alongside SMS alert to acknowledge receipt of payment. Rate-payers over the years have had challenges keeping paper receipts so it is envisaged that the e-PCC will eliminate the problem of lost receipts. Moreover, the unique ID of the card enables verification and validation of payments over the internet at, a website that gives further information about the Assemblies.

Signals indicate that RevNet Ltd plans to introduce it services to other MMDAs in Ghana to help maximize their revenue potential through prudent measures that will minimize leakages in the collection-chain, developing comprehensive databases, amply inform rate-payers about their current obligations towards their Assemblies, partnering Assemblies to develop or complete street naming and house numbering to enhance value of properties and bringing the Assemblies to international standards of addressing.

By Innocent Samuel Appiah

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.