In 2013, Rwanda mandated VAT-registered businesses to use certified electronic billing machines (EBMs). The EBM receipts provide a rich source of data, but in its raw form cannot be used to analyse specific items and cost information. IGC Rwanda has built a programme to clean item descriptions from EBM receipt data at the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). From this, it would like to work with RRA to establish a new system that would periodically download, process, and clean the raw EBM data, and present it in a user-friendly data portal for immediate use by the RRA.
To establish a high-frequency EBM data-portal, IGC Rwanda proposes a two staged approach.
Stage One: Proof of concept, Initial exploration of use
For the initial stage, IGC Rwanda will work with the existing raw data it has received from the RRA for use in a separate EBM ‘mystery shopper’ study. This stage will require the following activities:
- Streamline the process to cleaning the raw EBM data;
- Analyse the cleaned data and producing a new set of economic indicators;
- Develop a working version of an EBM data portal with a basic set of filters.
Stage Two: Explore and facilitate regular updating of EBM portal
After IGC Rwanda has provided an initial proof of concept of the EBM data portal using data from 2016, it would like to explore the potential for regular updating of the EBM portal. This stage requires:
- Preparing dataset for producing a new set of high-frequency economic indicators;
- Explore integration of data cleaning within the EBM data portal;
- Conduct a pilot with the RRA to include and disseminate regular updates.
For the RRA, making better use of this data for monitoring VAT evasion was seen as a high-priority activity. Similarly, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade have expressed extensive interest in exploring additional uses of this data for economic analysis.