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.

Audience AGM
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.

DOP Signing petition

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!!!

Tax Exemptions

UDN staff intensify the campaign against MPs Income Tax exemptions during a press conference held at the secretariat, 17th April 2016.

Members of Civil Society, including Uganda Debt Network (UDN), SEATINI and  Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG)  hereby express our  disappointment with Members of the 9th Parliament over their move to amend the Income tax (Amendments) Bill, 2016, to exempt their benefits and allowances from being taxed.
This move comes at a time when on 4th February 2016, the Commercial Court had ordered the Parliamentary Commission to deduct tax from M.P’s emoluments.  Rather than complying with the court order, the MPs, in indecent haste, have gone ahead to misuse their legislative powers to nullify the court ruling through this amendment.
It should be noted that the country is struggling to look for additional revenue (from domestic sources) to finance a number of key priorities in the national budget. It is a total shame that the members of Parliament are making such a move, at a time when the cancer Institute at Mulago hospital is urgently looking for funds to replace the only cancer machine in the country to save the lives of poor Ugandans who cannot afford to be treated from abroad.
Given the tremendous challenges the country is facing, we abhor these underhand methods and the insensitivity of our legislators to the plight of their fellow citizens. MPs are supposed to lead by example and to be trustees of the people’s interests. This move is a betrayal of this trust especially given the fact that other tax payers who earn less are taxed by URA.
Implications of this move
If this bill is assented to by the President, Uganda will lose about UGX 41.58bn additional revenue annually (i.e. about 9 million per MP per month). If this money was generated, it can help Government address some of the most pressing needs. Below are some of these areas:
Local Government
This money can finance Napak Local Governments for the next 4 financial years. Since the total district budget for Napak for FY 2015/16 currently stands at 11.3billion.

This money can close the funding gap in Ministry of Health’s FY 2016/17 of UGX 36bn to recruit 3542 health workers for General Hospitals.
Nyamwegatira Health Centre III in Kanungu district currently receives a UGX 6,893,220 per year out of the proposed 13,450,000/=. If these funds are realized, it would fund – 6,032 Health centres IIIs in a year.
In the Education Sector, this money can comfortably pay a monthly salary of 101,878 primary school teachers. Fill the funding gap of Shs. 1.75bn required for the industrial court for its efficient operations during Financial Year (FY) 2016/17.
The newly created Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services needs an additional UGX 0.928 billion for Wage and Operational Expenses for the newly created districts, fill funding gap amounting to Ugsh. 2bn to revitalize the Cooperatives and Kick start the Cooperative Bank at the cost of UGX 35Bn which has not materialized to date for over 3 years
We call upon the MPs to rethink this move for the sake of our people. They should also be aware that this move will compromise their over sight role.
We also call upon all citizens of Uganda to join us in this campaign to ensure that Ugandans are not denied of their rightful taxes that are crucial for government to provide social services and infrastructure.
We shall also seek Court redress through Public Interest Litigation.
We call upon the President of the Republic of Uganda to disassociate himself from this move by rejecting to assent to this Bill to save Ugandans billions of tax payer’s money and to contribute to domestic revenue generation envelope.