CSOs Commend President for Heeding Citizens' Petition
Wednesday 11 May, Kampala – Civil Society Organisations have held a press conference to commended President Yoweri Museveni for heeding a petition by the citizens of Uganda, to reject the proposed amendment in the Income Tax Bill.
Speaking at the press conference, FRA Executive Director Ms. Agnes Kirabo called upon the Members of Parliament to not fight but rather consider the President’s decision.
“If the law is unfair, we call on MPs to steer efforts around reforming the income tax rather than them choosing to exempt themselves from taxing their allowances while other Ugandans are paying” she said.
In his address to the press, CSBAG Coordinator Julius Mukunda said that CSOs were ready to work with Parliament to close the existing gaps in the revenue collection and expenditure. He called upon the government especially the parliament to revise the whole income tax law and fix loopholes therein.
The decision by the President to return the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill to parliament for review came after a two week campaign spearheaded by Civil Society Organizations that aimed to collect Five Million signatures, petitioning the President to reject the proposed amendment. By the end of the two weeks, 4,201,098 signatures had been collected from over 80 districts and these were submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday 6th May 2016.
In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, the President mentioned that MPs lack the “moral right” to exempt any of their emoluments from taxes and that doing so “would send a dangerous message” with other Ugandans joining the bandwagon to demand a freeze on their emoluments.
“This decision is not only injurious to our revenue efforts, but also it isn’t politically and morally correct,” he said.
The President cited several other reasons for his decision to return the Bill to Parliament for reconsideration such as the need to enhance revenue collection if Uganda is to meet her ambition of transforming into a middle income country by 2020.
The recent move by Parliament to amend the Income Tax Act came after the High Court of Uganda, Parliamentary Commission and Uganda Revenue Authority resolved that all emoluments paid to the Members of Parliament are subject to tax under the provisions of the Income Tax Act Cap 34. (HCCS No 745 of 201.3) By passing the amendment, the Members of Parliament chose to render court powerless and the judgment useless by passing a law exempting them from paying tax, says Uganda Law Society.