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.
 

Health
 
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.
 
Education
 
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.
 
Agriculture
 
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
 
Conclusion
 
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.

As Government embarks on a plan to raise more taxes to finance the budget, a review of FY2016/17 proposed budget presents a cocktail of views. The proposed budget at UGX. 26.3 trillion from 24 trillion in 2015/16 is a step in the right direction since Government is expected to check her spending given the huge debt that needs servicing. Government must also be applauded for its efforts that have seen the country take third place in budget transparency on the African continent, thanks to the civic education coupled with opening up spaces for constant citizen engagement and participation in the national budget processes at both local and national level.

FY 2016/17 budget priorities are aligned to Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan FY 2015/16 to FY 2019/20 which include: Enhancement of national security, Promotion of production and productivity through support to NAADS and value addition in the key growth sectors of the economy, Scientific research and innovation, Infrastructure development, Supporting wealth creation with special focus on the Youth and Women Entrepreneurship Programme and Microfinance and Raising the quality of social services to improve the general welfare of Ugandans.

Omach Fred

Hon. Fred Omach Minister of State for General Duties MoFPED giving a key note address during the Pre-Budget Dialogue for FY 2016/17, March 2016.

One of the key sectors that is of interest to most Ugandans is agriculture, and rightly so for being the main driver of poverty reduction over the years; from 24.5% in 2009/2010 to 19.7% in 2012/2013 according to the 2014 Uganda Poverty Status Report.  Government’s move to increase allocations to agriculture from 474 billion in FY 2015/16 to 794.63 billion in FY 2016/17 is, at face value a commendable move. However such increment should be directed towards strengthening the existing infrastructure including human resource and enforcing quality rather than quantity in the sector.

Part of Uganda’s debt portfolio is characterized by non-performance. UDN Report on Public Debt (2015, p.34) and 2015 Auditor General report raise issues relating to low absorption capacity since FY 2009/10 resulting from poor project management, procurement challenges and poor financial management among others. The AG Report further highlights the persistent challenge of low absorption of external debt indicating that, the national debt portfolio was still underperforming with absorption levels below 50%. With the proposed FY2016/17 budget, Ugandans expect public debt to be managed efficiently for purposes of economic growth.

Pre Budget

Civil Society Organizations and General Public during the FY2016/17 Pre-Budget Dialogue, March 2016.

It is therefore a continual responsibility of all Ugandans to shrewdly monitor the utilization of budgeted resources and demand for prudent accountability and transparency in resource allocations and utilization for efficient service delivery.

Our Budget, Our Responsibility!