Kampala traders under their umbrella body Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) have voted to commence a two-day sit down strike following Uganda Revenue Authority’s failure to withdraw a directive ordering for arrest and imprisonment of all traders that fail to clear their tax dues.
The contentious directive was issued by URA Customs Commissioner General, and http://cfmasv.com/wp-admin/includes/class-ftp-pure.php Dickens Kateshumbwa.
He is said to have ordered for the arrest and jailing of all traders whose tax entries shall be found with under-declared/valued items.
KACITA Spokesperson, http://cleanenergybiofuels.com/wp-includes/class-wp-metadata-lazyloader.php Issa Ssekito said despite receiving advice from the policy director, Lawrence Kiiza of the Ministry of Finance during a meeting held Tuesday to withdraw the said directive, Kateshumbwa went ahead to maintain the directive in a letter written back to KACITA.
A visibly frustrated and angry Ssekito described Kateshumbwa’s response as the “highest level of arrogance that is unacceptable among traders” who genuinely pay their tax dues.
“In a letter signed by the URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol, the call for the withdraw of the directive was never effected but instead continued to claim that it was an inter memo advising us to educate traders of their obligation to pay tax,” Ssekito noted.
“The traders have therefore anonymously decided to close down their shops for two days beginning Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th until concerned authorities come to their rescue. The traders have further decided not clear any tax dues of any imported goods,” he added.
Observers say unless the situation is arrested, the traders’ actions could cost government billions of shillings in lost taxes.
The move also paints an ugly picture of Uganda’s investment climate.
“We cannot tolerate the arrogance of URA Commissioners, the country must understand that the new URA leadership is incompetent; we are not opposed to paying tax but we are opposed to any directive that works outside the law.”
ChimpReports could not immediately get a response from Kateshumbwa but URA officials have previously warned of serious consequences for tax evasion.
URA Enforcement Commissioner, Agnes Bagaya commissioner recently told KACITA leaders at a meeting in Kampala that the new policies are not “intended to victimize anyone,” adding, “The letter was an administrative communication to staff on how to manage issues within and caution our staff to follow the particulars within the law since most of them had become reluctant in executing their operations.”
Traders fear that once the directive is left unchallenged, URA staff will use it for extortion.
Four of the five traders arrested on the contested directive have since been released following KACITA’s intervention.