Local Civil Society Organizations have Wednesday morning expressed gratitude to President Yoweri Museveni for refusing to sign a law designed to exempt Members of Parliament from paying taxes.
The NGOs united under the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) while addressing press in Kampala today, no rx http://coventryrugby.co.uk/wp-admin/includes/screen.php extended appreciation to the president for “taking into consideration the voices and concerns of citizens to reject the Income Tax Bill of 2016.
The Bill as amended was passed hastily by Parliament when tabled by Speaker on April 16th and among others it suggested pulling legislator’s emoluments out of the tax bracket.
When confronted by the public, press and the civil society, the MPs argued that their allowances are already too insufficient to be taxed.
6 days after they passed the bill, members of the civil society launched a campaign to collect citizen’s signatures to petition the president.
According CSBAG’s coordinator Julius Mukunda, up to 4,201,098 signatures from over 80 districts were submitted to Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who in turn delivered them to the President.
President Museveni yesterday rejected the amended Bill and sent it back to the Speaker of Parliament informing her that he was not in support of the idea of MPs exempting themselves from paying taxes.
He cited several reasons such as the need to enhance revenue collection if Uganda is to meet her ambition of transforming into a middle income country by 2020.
“This decision is not only injurious to our revenue efforts, but also it isn’t politically and morally correct,” wrote the President after exercising his powers under Article 91 of the Constitution to return the bill to parliament for reconsideration.
Mr Mukunda told press today that CSOs were ready to work with Parliament to close the existing gaps in the revenue collection and expenditure.
“Parliament would cease to have a moral authority to encourage citizens to pay taxes if the MPs granted themselves such privileges,” he said.
“We call upon the government especially the parliament to revise the whole income tax law and fix loopholes therein. Uganda loses from tax incentives at least 2% of GDP or UGX 690B. MPs should enact laws to protect Uganda from such losses.”
He added, “We think this is an opportunity for parliament to cleanse its name and show their true commitment to respecting Ugandans. MPs can only play this role if they are themselves paying.”