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FDC urges Ugandans to rise up against new 'exploitative' taxes

Finance minister Matia Kasaija

Finance minister Matia Kasaija

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has implored Ugandans to rise up against some of the newly approved taxes and the increasing public debt, which currently stands at over $15 billion (about Shs 54 trillion).

Last month, parliament approved a Shs 100 levy on a litre of petrol, diesel and paraffin, but now FDC deputy secretary-general Harold Kaija says the tax will not only affect motorists, but all Ugandans in a cumulative manner.

He explains that a boda boda rider consuming fuel of Shs 20,000 per day, will be required to pay not less than Shs 200,000 annually compared to the annual Shs 150,000 road user license that was initially proposed but later dropped following a public backlash. Kaija says it's high time Ugandans stopped underlooking things that affect them as they wait for the leaders to speak out.

"But I think because some of our people hate numbers, they did not look at the cumulative effect of the Shs 100 because when you run the numbers, you will find that a boda boda guy will pay about Shs 200,000 per year. If they consume fuel of Shs 20,000, it actually increases to Shs 30,000 or Shs 40,000 depending on what they are doing, they might end up even paying even Shs 300,000 from the Shs 150,000. A saloon car that consumers about 7 litres a day, will pay Shs 250,000 plus if it keeps consuming that. If he drives to Masaka, goes to Jinja, the cost will even increase to Shs 400,000 from the earlier Shs 200,000," said Kaija.

Kaija says instead of burdening the ordinary Ugandans with more exorbitant taxes, government should be taxing the more profitable ventures such as gold export. He wondered why gold exporters pay only $200 (about Shs 722,000) tax per kilogram yet on the international market a kilogram is worth about Shs 207 million.

"Who is in this gold export because the percentage on tax on gold is about 0.0003% not 0.05%. Not even 1%, PAYE they want 30%, internet they want 12% in a world when internet is actually becoming free of charge. Those who have moved in other countries; from the airport to wherever you go to the train - to any public place internet is free but here they want 12%. Am not even talking about the money they are going to ask on your airtime. These are some of the taxes that Ugandans must say no to. A person who pays PAYE goes ahead and pays 30% on rent," Kaija added. 

Kaija says the public must demand to know the beneficiaries of their taxes instead of lamenting about the bad roads, hospitals, and poor public services. Kaija also says that the FDC party wants the population to demand accountability for the large sums of money acquired through loans that remain redundant yet Ugandans have to pay interest. Over 20 per cent of the money in 2021/22 financial year budget has been earmarked for servicing loan.

"FDC is concerned about how Uganda is indebted especially on how the money borrowed is used. We’re aware that about Shs 17 trillion was got through loans and it has been redundant at the ministry of Finance. As you’re all aware, the budget of 2021/22, about 20% of that budget is going to be paying interest on those loans. But when we get information that some of those loans are actually redundant, the FDC would want to question that why is that money borrowed. Why don’t they use it because in countries like ours where we have leaders who don’t mind about others and are only greedy, some of them use that money to do their own business. Some of them use that money to do their own business," Kaija said. 

However, the government says that borrowing was inevitable as it needed funds to finance the gaps and provide a stimulus package. According to FDC, it does not matter whether the taxes have already been passed by the parliament as long as the population opposes the taxes, they can be dropped.

Last month, the minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija tabled before parliament 12 taxes under the financial year 2021/2022 budget. They included the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2021, l, 2021, The External Trade (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

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