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.