Saturday, October 28, 2017

Filling URAs TIN Number Form Is Like Doing An Exam in Quantum Physics

There is something about being a civil servant. Civil Servant is a breed unto their own, with their own rules of ethics, sense of dress and approach to work.

Civil Servant can be spotted a mile away. If he is male, he’s likely to wear a white shirt - a short sleeved one at that with a tie and beneath it, a fishing net vest. Who on earth still wears short sleeved shirts with a tie? Surely, it must be against the laws of fashion? Going on, he also has three to four sets of Bic or Nice House of Plastic pens – blue, black, red and green in his shirt pocket. Why he needs a multitude of different coloured pens I don’t know, but I suspect when they are neatly lined up in his shirt pocket it makes him look all important, like he is the final signatory on the ministry cheque or some important document. Lastly, he has a laptop bag with him except, there is no laptop in it, but a Bukedde or New Vision newspaper from last December and more pens just in case the ones lined up in his pocket die on him.

Recently I found myself in need of something called a tax identification number or TIN to complete a business transaction for without it so I was advised, said transaction could not be completed. It was news I didn’t want to hear because it would necessitate dealing with Civil Servant and going to a cramped URA office that has no air conditioning and where I guess they still use wooden furniture that was constructed when Sir Andrew Cohen was still Governor General of Uganda in the 50s.

URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol 
The first step to getting a TIN number is to go online and fill in the application form. It should have been easy enough except, that I don’t have a PhD in the Comprehension Civil Service Speak and thus was unable to understand the form the first time I read through it. And the second time too, the third and the fourth.

The first question was easy enough. “Title (optional)”. Question 7 which was mandatory because it had a red * is: “Mothers maiden name?” Jeez, but what on earth does my mother’s maiden have to do with getting a TIN number?    

Section C, isn’t really a question but asks you what two identification documents you intend to produce to support the application. It could be anything from employment ID, voter’s card, passport, national ID, NSSF card and so on.  On me, I had an employment ID. That’s it. But I do know my NSSF number off head and duly etched it in the box and made way to the URA office.

Upon arrival, it was more than a pleasant surprise to find they had modern furniture and even air-conditioning but, Fat Woman who bore all the hallmarks of being a staunch civil servant was still there. She had this DO NOT MESS WITH ME look on her face and when I slapped my papers on her desk, she didn’t look up. So I proffered a meek ‘good afternoon’ and still no response.

HER: “I need your NSSF card” she suddenly sprung.

ME: “But the card has no value. Surely it’s the number that you need and I wrote it in the box.”

HER: “I need your NSSF card” then turned back to her PC.

The Finger and Pout of Assuring
So what did I do next? I hurled four tumbavu’s at her, knocked her PC off her desk and gave her two hot slaps before security sprung to action and arrested me. Okay so I am lying. I needed her more than she needed me so I meekly trudged off round the corner to NSSF headquarters and half-an-hour later, I was back with a gleaming new NSSF card.

Do you sense a ‘BUT’ coming on? There was indeed a ‘BUT’. “But it has to be approved. Come back tomorrow or Friday” so she blurted out.

ME: “You mean somebody has to approve which TIN number to allocate me?”

Of course, there was a deftly silence so I upped my game. “Listen, I am not applying for a bank loan. I am sure getting a TIN number is a five-minute job. Just find a number which is free and put my name next to it.

For that suggestion, I was directed round the corner to see Supervisor who had no inclination of helping me until he spied my surname. There is no need to bore you with the details but to say, ten minutes later I was on my way home with a TIN number.  


What surprised though, was that they didn’t ask for 10k as ‘administrative fees’. 


Pictures:  New Vision, Agencies      


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