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PRESS STATEMENT: Released 20th November 2016  

As you are aware, on 15th November 2016, Parliament returned the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to the President with a proposal to exempt MPs allowances from Taxes. The new Insertion under the Income Tax bill by MPs under Sec.21 “(qa) the employment income of person employed as a Member of Parliament, except salary” intends to  create a tax exemption on MPs’ emoluments and allowances, and adds to the list of special groups that are exempt for paying tax in their allowances (Police men, soldiers and prisons). The move for the MPs to insist on exempting their allowances from tax comes at a time when the country is grappling with resources to buy each of the 431 MPs a car for their term of service in the 10th Parliament. 

We would like to note whereas the average basic pay of an MP, for tax purposes is UGX 11.18m and that their average contribution to tax is 3.374m, an MPs in Uganda earns anywhere between 20 – 27 million (including other allowances). And in the spirit of the Ugandan Income tax law, which is progressive, the more you earn, the more you should pay. This should appeal more to the MPs who represent the poor communities from which we all come. 

Whereas the Constitution Article 85(2) allows MPs to determine their emoluments, Article 93(a)(i) restricts Parliament from proceeding upon a bill and or a motion on financial matters especially on taxation, unless the motion or bill is moved on behalf of government. We therefore find the move by MPs to exempt their emoluments from income tax UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

 

With a tax to GDP Ratio of 12.9% , MPs must pay taxes on their allowances for the following five reasons; 

  • Taxation is the price we pay for service delivery and development in any civilized country. As a country, we are proud that we are increasingly able to finance our national budget from domestic taxes. In the FY 2016/17 up to 68% of our national budget will be raised locally from domestic taxes. 
  • The move is discriminatory. All other citizens pay taxes on their allowances including the medical workers, the teachers and private citizens including; lunch allowances for medical workers, Siting allowances for district councilors, Allowances for Judicial officers. 
  • We will lose UGX 49.464bn annually; Looking at the total number of MPs in the 10th Parliament, the country stands to lose over UGX 49.464bn annually. This money can close the following funding gaps; UGX 4.4bn for hiring 250 science and 100 arts teachers, UGX 3.35bn to start the NHIS, UGX 36bn to hire 3,542 Health workers, UGX 2bn to revitalize cooperative.
  • It sets a wrong precedent: Other Civil Servants whose allowances are taxed will get a precedent to take legal action to exempt themselves from Paying tax. The Councilors at the LGs level might also make the same demands as decision makers at that level. The private sector and other Ugandans will try all means possible not to pay taxes 
  • It’s illegal: Whereas the Constitution Article 85(2) allows MPs to determine their emoluments, Article 93(a)(i) restricts Parliament from proceeding upon a bill and or a motion on financial matters especially on taxation, unless the motion or bill is moved on behalf of government. We therefore find the move by MPs to exempt their emoluments from income tax UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

We call upon our MPs to stop being selfish and predatory to the people they represent, we request our President to reject this clause in the bill that seeks to exempt MPs from paying tax on their allowance as he did in their first submission, and the Attorney general to reign against this unconstitutional move that will set a wrong precedence among the citizens in terms of tax compliance. 

 

FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY 

 

 

 

Published: 18th November 2016

 

On 11th May 2016, the President returned the income tax amendment Bill rejecting to ascent to the Bill and the decision of Members Parliament to exempt themselves from paying income tax. The President recommitted to parliament clause 21(1) of the income tax bill which exempts employment income of MPs, except salary. The President shared that the amendment to clause 21 of the bill which doesn't promote good practice because it risks undermining the integrity of both the Courts and parliament. Adding that, the decision by the legislators to exempt themselves from paying income taxes on their allowances is not only injurious to revenue efforts, but is politically and morally incorrect. 

On 15th November 2016, Parliament passed the income Tax (Amendment) Bill without any amendments sticking to their decision not to revise any amendments made by the President. It should be noted that the country is struggling to look for additional revenue (from domestic sources) to finance a number of key priorities in the National budget. Given the tremendous challenges the country is facing with high debt burden, MPs are supposed to lead by example and be trustees of the people’s interests. This move is a betrayal of this trust especially given the fact that other tax payers who earn less are taxed by Uganda Revenue Authority. 

Every Ugandan is obligated to pay taxes irrespective of their position in society and there should not be a class of citizens who are exempted from payment of taxes. The tax burden should be shared fairly and Parliament should only develop a tax regime that applies to all citizens without discrimination 

Uganda Debt Network (UDN) expresses her disappointment with Members of the 9th and 10th Parliament over their refusal to accept the amendments in the Income tax (Amendments) Bill, 2016, to exempt their benefits and allowances from being taxed. 

 

Recommendations 

  • We call upon the MPs to rethink this move for the sake of the people and constituencies they represent. They should also be aware that this move will compromise their over sight role. 
  • We encourage the President of the Republic of Uganda to disassociate himself from this move by rejecting to assent to this Bill to save Ugandans billions of tax payer’s money. 
  • We further call upon all Development partners to prevail upon Government to ensure that Ugandans are not denied their rightful taxes that are crucial for Government to provide social services and infrastructure.

 

 

 

Published: 26th October 2016

 

The Health sector budget allocation in FY 2016/17 increased by 44% from last financial year UGX1, 270.81bn in FY2015/16 to UGX 1,826.49bn this financial year. The Health sector objectives include; improving population health outcomes and well-being, reducing health inequalities, and ensuring a citizen-centered health system that is universal, equitable, sustainable and of a high quality. In order to achieve this, Ministry of Health focuses on implementation of National Health Policy II (NHPII) whose priority areas include: 

  • Establishing a functional integration within the public and private sector, addressing the human resource gaps and related service delivery challenges. 
  • Strengthening health System in line with decentralization, reconceptualising and organizing supervision and monitoring of health systems at all levels 

Health sector grants are provided to Local Governments and health facilities to provide health services, in order to achieve universal health coverage with emphasis on access, quality and affordability aspects. 

With the use of the fiscal decentralization reforms, Local Governments (LGs) will be able to enhance adherence to core budget and accountability requirements, strengthen functioning of LG processes, systems and incentive attainments of service delivery results. 

While the recent LG Health Sector Guidelines and the attendant budget allocation formula are a step in the right direction, Civil Society has made a critical analysis of the same and come up with recommendations for the guidelines to be more robust and effective. 

 

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Where Private not for Profit Health Facilities (PNFPs) exist and there is no Government Health facility, they should be treated equally (Allocated the same amount of money/funds as that of a government health facility). In addition PNFPs should provide services at subsidized prices (capping of costs of services fess/ performance bonds). 
  • During reporting by LGs, focus should be put on the patients’ Area of residence to capture the catchment popula-tion of those health Facilities serving more than one district. Non – Sector Actors should be involved in the for-mulation of sector policies and monitoring. 
  • Allocation Formula for Health Facilities in Lower local Governments should be developed and used in allocating funds to promote equity within the districts
  • Sensitization of LG office Bearers on how to implement guidelines and reforms and PNFS- that get funds from other sources should provide subsidized services (capping of costs of service fees)/performance bond.

 

 

Published: 12th October 2016

 

Uganda Debt Network (UDN) participated in a Social Accountability Forum that was organized by World Vision, on 28th September, 2016. This forum brought various actors from Government, Donors, Media, CSOs and Private Sectors together with an aim of creating a platform for sharing experiences, stories of change, and to build synergies between Government Accountability Mechanism and Social Accountability efforts by Non State Actors. 

UDN shared her Social Accountability approach called Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation system (CBMES) that aims at stimulating community interest to take charge of their own development process and increase citizen voices. UDN has continued to strengthen her partners and allies to articulate and influence policies at local and national level. The efforts have yielded an effective interface between policy-makers and the communities in promotion of public accountability and improved service delivery. 

It is evident that Government through Office of the Prime Minister has become very responsive to the demands of the communities and providing wider forums called the Barazas that bring policy makers, service providers and service users to discuss service delivery concerns and draw strategies for quality service delivery. 

 

Recommendations for an effective social accountability initiative 

  • Active involvement of youth and women in social accountability related issues. 
  • Provide citizens with information related to Government programmes and social services for accountability and as a feedback mechanism. 
  • Citizen monitoring activities should be integrated into economic activities like the Village Saving and Loaning Associations that benefit from them directly. 
  • Proper coordination between the various Social Accountability Actors for synergy building, collaboration and harmonisation of efforts and activities for effective implementation. 

 

 

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