By Stephen Wandera
KAMPALA, Uganda, Civil society has requested government to consider reintroducing graduated tax and increasing tax on gambling to deter against laziness among men of working age.
“Ever since graduated tax was abolished, women especially from upcountry have come to us complaining. Their husbands no longer want to work, they spend most of their valuable time drinking alcohol in bars and markets,” Ms. Jane Nalunga, Country Director, SEATINI Uganda said.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday April 3rd 2016, at the NGO offices in Bukoto, Nalunga also decried gambling tendency of university students.
These women also complained of their sons engaged in sports beating, Nalunga noted. Adding, “Ever since sports beating was introduced to Uganda a couple of days ago, the rate of boys dropping out of school has increased. We as SEATINI thrive for openness, transparency, integrity and non-violence, working with diligence towards greater justice as well as equity and we would like to see that it prevails.”
President Yoweri Museveni abolished graduated tax during his 2005 presidential campaigns, arguing that the tax was expensive to collect and regressive.
Presenting the 2007/2008 national budget proposals, the former finance minister, Ezra Suruma, introduced local service tax which levied on people in gainful employment, self-employed professionals, self-employed artisans and businessmen and women plus commercial farmers. Members of the UPDF, the police, prisons, LDU’s and the unemployed and poor people are however exempted from the local service tax.
Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Uganda budget specialist Patrick Katabazi sides with Nalunga on taxing low income earners but suggests it can be collected in more advanced way.
“Just let every mobile phone user pay like Shs2000 per phone. This issue of leaving tax to be paid by a few working classes is wrong. Every Uganda attest should pay something to have sense of ownership of this country,” he said.
Mr. Julius Mukunda, Country Coordinator, CSBAG urged government to formulate a budget acceptable to majority Ugandans.
Extract of civil society statement suggestions on 2016/17 budget
We members of civil society organisations including SEATINI Uganda, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Uganda Debt Network (UDN), Action Aid International Uganda (AAIU), Citizens Watch-IT (CEWIT), Women and Girl Child Development Association (WEGCDA), Institute for Social Transformation (IST), African Center for Trade and Development (ACTADE), Food Rights Alliance (FRA) and Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) that are gathered here at SEATINI Uganda offices in Kampala this 3rd April 2016 hereby present our observations and recommendations in respect to the tax measures that were presented to Parliament on 10th March 2016 by Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Whereas the Minister’s proposals stated in the Finance Amendment Bill 2016, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are well intended we have the following observations to make;
POSITIVE TAX PROPOSALS
- Increase of excise duty on ready to drink spirits from 70 per cent to 80 per cent. This is expected to raise Shs2 billion.
- Increase of excise duty on soft cap from Shs45, 000 to Shs50, 000 and Hinge lid from Shs75, 000 to Shs80, 000 expected to raise Shs10 billion.
- Increase of the excise duty on sugar from Shs50 to Shs100 per kg expected to raise Shs20 billion.
- Increase of excise duty on sugar confectionaries from 10 per cent to 20 per cent expected to raise Shs6 billion.
- Increase of stamp duty on transfer and exchange of property from 1 per cent to 2 per cent expected to raise Shs9 billion.
- Increase of specific stamp duty rate for instruments from Shs.5, 000 to Shs.10, 000 expected to raise Shs500 million.
- Adjustment of fees under the Mining Act 2003 expected to raise Shs10 billion.
- The amendment of the Value Added Tax Act in which section 7(4A) which intends to expand the category of those required to register to pay Value Added Tax to include those undertaking midstream operations as defined by the Petroleum (Refining, Conversion, Transmission and Midstream Storage) Act 2013.