TUESDAY 3rd MAY 2016
People in Kabale have tasked President Yoweri Museveni not to betray them by allowing MPs’ tax exemption on their allowances and renumerations. Led by Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the clerics, Councillors and Kabale Mayor requested Museveni to maintain his ground that the lawmakers should pay taxes.
“I want to thank President Museveni for categorically stating that MPs shouldn’t be exempted from paying taxes,” Batanyenda said drawing applause from Kabale citizens who turned up to sign signatures petitioning Museveni to stick to his word. This was at Hill Top Hotel in Kabale on Monday 12th December 2016 where different leaders from Kigezi region converged to support the President that MPs shouldn’t be exempted from paying taxes.
The Kabale residents’ move comes after the countrywide national campaign to block MPs tax exemption launched in Kampala last week and spread across various Districts. In attendance were lecturers, farmers, traders, councilors, youth and religious leaders among others. The event was organized by Kick Corruption out of Uganda.
“MPs are so canning, let them allow us not to tax their salaries but tax their allowances,” Batanyenda said in reference to MPs’ argument that they pay taxes on their salaries. The outspoken clergy criticized MPs’ rhetoric that because of so many demands from the constituencies such as attending burials and weddings they need the exemption. Fr. Batanyenda read article 17 and 79 of the Constitution which stipulates citizen’s obligation to pay taxes and the functions of MPs to make laws respectively.
Rev. Dr. Emphraim Mbabazi from Kisoro urged citizens to support Government so that enough tax revenue is generated from MPs’ allowances so as to improve service delivery in the country. The Executive Director of Kick Corruption out of Uganda, Mr. Robert Byamugisha Kakuru encouraged citizens to sign open letters to President Museveni not to back down on MPs quest for tax exemption. “It’s an obligation of every citizen to pay taxes for development. It’s a bloodstream network that connects us to other countries and without it, it cuts us away from development agenda,”Byamugisha said.
The Secretary to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Abdulhasiib Ssekalema urged MPs to pay taxes on their allowances and renumerations. Maurice Kaitaba a lecturer at Kabale University described the MPs’ refusal to pay taxes as corruption at the highest level and robbery at noon. He called upon the District Councils to debate the matter during their plenary sittings.
Israel Kwesiga a trader reasoned that if he pays taxes then why are MPs to be exempted. “Let’s all pay taxes regardless of the position you hold in this country, ”Kwesiga stated. The District Councilors present at the meeting added their voices urging the legislators to pay their taxes. Pius Rwakamari the Kabale Councilor pledged to take the matter to the District Council for debate. The Mayor of Kabale Municipality, Mr. Sentaro Byamugisha urged the residents not to give up on the campaign. He promised to mobilize them to hold a peaceful demonstration in Kabale town. The tax collectors from URA also stressed the importance of paying taxes as it boosts revenue collection. Arnold Mulindwa noted that it would be a setback if MPs don’t pay their taxes. “None payment of taxes will result to reduced tax revenue,” Mulindwa said.
The Kabale citizens made recommendations among them signing signatures to petition the President to maintain his stand, the District Councils in Kigezi region should deliberate on this issue during the council meetings, continue creating awareness among citizens on the dangers of not paying taxes. At the end of it about 700 citizens signed on the letters to petition the President.