Members of Civil Society Organizations fronted by Uganda Debt Network (UDN), Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), SEATINI, Anti- Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), Uganda National NGO Forum, Action Aid Uganda, Food Rights Initiative (FRI) and Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) today gathered at CSBAG offices for a press conference that aimed at appreciating the President of the Republic of Uganda for taking into consideration the voices and concerns of the citizens by rejecting the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016 and sending it back to parliament for re-consideration. When Members of Parliament passed the Income Tax Amendment Bill that exempted their allowances from being taxed, CSO’s launched a campaign to collect citizen’s signatures to petition the President asking him to exercise his powers under Article 91 of the constitution and not to assent to the Bill. 4,201,098 signatures from over 80 districts were submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister last Friday 6th May 2016 at his offices. As CSO’s, we think this is an opportunity for Members of Parliament to show their true commitment to the development of Uganda and not pass this Bill again.
African Development Bank estimates that Uganda losses from tax incentives at least 2% of GDP which would amount to around Ushs 690 billion. The legislators are meant to ensure we have laws that protect our country from such losses and they can only play this role if they are themselves paying these taxes. Also in the spirit of fairness and equity as envisioned by the principles of taxation, legislators should also equally pay a fair share of what they earn. Therefore as part of enhancing Uganda’s tax base, we encourage the Government of Uganda to;
• Develop a fair and more equitable tax justice system that seeks to increase revenue for the country;
• Repeal Article 85(1) of Uganda’s constitution that gives parliament mandate to determine its pay;
• Establish a salary review commission so as to harmonize salaries &emoluments of all public servants and ;
• Strengthen the capacity of URA to curb illicit financial flows, fully implement the Money Laundering Act so as to curb illicit financial flows and establish a mechanism of implementing the recommendations from the high level Mbeki Panel Report that was adopted by African Union in January 2015.
In conclusion, special thanks go to the citizens of Uganda, the media for creating awareness on the implications of this Parliamentary move and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development for giving strong technical advice to Parliament that the proposed law would undermine Government efforts to increase revenue for national development. It is our Utmost desire to see that every Ugandan pays his/her fair share of taxes.
Ambassador Gabriel Kangwagye addressing the audience during UDN AGM at Hotel Africana, 29th April 2016.
On Friday 29 April 2016, Uganda Debt Network held yet another Annual General Meeting at Hotel Africana that was widely attended to by UDN members both individuals from different parts of Uganda and UDN constituencies as well as members at Civil Society, Donor community and Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Approximately 100 members were present to witness and review UDN achievements for the year 2015.
A representative from Dan Church Aid (DCA) Mr. Musinguzi John thanked UDN for the good work done and applauded her for doing her advocacy work in a diplomatic manner compared to other organizations. He encouraged UDN to continue the good work and document all achievements under one of its thematic areas of Capacity Building and Empowerment to be used as evidence and a reference point for all stakeholders.
The Guest of Honour Ambassador Gabriel Kangwagye commended UDN for her effort in improving and transforming governance in terms of people empowerment, accountability and participation. He acknowledged that UDN work has influenced performance of Public service and has played a role in addressing persistent challenges of balancing the national budget, delivery of social services, good governance and fighting corruption.
To all the stakeholders and funders of UDN work, we appreciate all the encouragement and support throughout the years and thank you for participating in the Annual General Meeting.
UDN’s Director of Programmes Mr. Julius Kapwepwe signs the 5Million Signature campaign petition during the launch of the campaign at Hotel Africana, 20th April 2016.
Members of Parliament recently passed the Income Tax Amendment Bill that exempted their allowances/ benefits from being taxed. This hasty move resulted from a commercial court ruling on February 4th 2016 where the Commercial Court ordered the Parliamentary Commission to deduct tax from MP’s emoluments.
Uganda Debt Network (UDN) and other Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) i.e. CSBAG, SEATINI have come out against this move by parliament and have gone ahead to call upon the President of Uganda not to assent to this Bill. The Bill not only goes against Taxation principle of fairness and equity but Uganda would lose about Ugx 41.58bn additional revenue annually, which money if generated would help Government address some of the most pressing needs in Uganda.
The 5 Million Signature campaign is meant to petition the President of Uganda NOT to assent to this Bill for the good of all Ugandan tax payers and the economy at large. Media reports have indicated that Members of Parliament are threatening not to pass the 2016/17 budget if President Museveni does not approve their tax exemption law. (See 25th April 2016, Daily Monitor Pg12).
The 5 million nationwide campaign urges all citizens of Uganda to sign a 5 million petition that seeks to compel President Museveni not to sign the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that exempts MPs allowances from being taxed. Uganda Debt Network urges you to sign this Citizen’s petition requesting President Museveni to reject the Income Tax Amendment Bill.
Be a part of the campaign and make a difference: Sign the petition.
For a Better Uganda!!!