Crisis Communication of Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA): Addressing Public Grievances Following the 2017 Income Tax Collection Process

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Addis Ababa University


The purpose of this study is to assess the crisis communication effort of Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) in addressing public grievances in response to the authority’s recent assessment of average daily and annual incomes of the business community in Addis Ababa and levy taxes accordingly. Situational Crisis Communication Theory of W. T Coombs is used to examine the crisis communication activity, response strategy of ERCA and the role played by the PR department of the authority in mitigating the crisis. Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches were employed to collect data from ERCA managers, public relations professionals and category “C” income tax payers to study ERCA’s effort to handle the crisis. Eight respondents were interviewed and 383 category “C” income tax payers were asked to fulfil questionnaire regarding the view of the tax payers toward ERCA’s crisis communication effort. The study found out that ERCA’s crisis communications was generally weak and lacked sufficient preparation and prevention at the pre-crisis stage. The role played by PR in handling the crisis appears to be limited. The public relations professionals were only drawn into the crisis management process after the crisis had reached its peak and was fully realized. During the crisis stage, communication problems created unfavorable situation between the tax payers and ERCA. Timely getting accurate information concerning the newly introduced tax collection system appeared to be a problem and created confusion. At times conflicting messages were transmitted by different people in the organization. The poor implementation of crisis communication in the preparation stage affected the process of handling the crisis situation throughout crisis and post crisis stages. Absence of proper preparation seemed to have resulted in fragmented communication techniques that were less effective. Based on study findings, recommendations are forwarded to ERCA as well as the business community to prevent the crisis from escalating and to improve the organizational performance of ERCA towards building better public trust.



Crisis Communication of Ethiopian Revenue and Customs