Hundreds Demonstrate Against MPs Tax Exemption

2175 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Over 500 citizens and activists from different parts of the country assembled at Railway headquarters grounds and matched to UMA show grounds in Lugogo from where they read a statement to the president asking him to stop the greed exhibited by Ugandan legislators.

Hundreds of Ugandans took to the streets of Kampala this morning to protest a move by Members of Parliament to exempt themselves from paying income tax, off their allowances.

Over 500 citizens and activists from different parts of the country assembled at Railway headquarters grounds and matched to UMA show grounds in Lugogo from where they read a statement to the president asking him to stop the greed exhibited by Ugandan legislators.

With the Police Band in the lead, and several police officers guiding protestors through the journey, they marched through the streets carrying placards and banners, with messages castigating MPs for plotting to evade taxes.

'I pay my tax why not you,' read one of the inscriptions on a manila placard, among so many other messages.  Protestors told URN that tax evasion is both undemocratic and irresponsible.

Mugoya Wilson, a protestor from Iganga district said that by exempting themselves from paying taxes, legislators are proving that they do not care about the welfare of the rest of the country.  He adds that payment of taxes should be a responsibility of every citizen, specifically those holding positions of leadership.
 
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Mary Kazibwe, a protestor from Luwero district says that failure to pay taxes affects the tax base from which government gets resources to extend services to its people.
 
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Ruth Logose, a Councillor from Kibuku district says implores the electorate to recall those members of parliament who are bent on sidestepping their responsibility.
 
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Mbabaali Sulaiman from Lyantonde district says Ugandans need to work collectively to stop the move.
 
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Malik Nyackyirra from the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group-CSBAG says that there are good signs that the tax exemption will fail since the president and the public are against it.

Omara Olem, from Lira district local Government says the MPs should not forget that they were voted into offices by people who still hold the mandate over their stay in office.
 
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Julius Mukunda, the CSBAG Coordinator states that whereas the constitution allows for MPs to determine their emoluments, article 93(a) restricts parliament from proceeding upon a bill and or a motion on financial matters especially on taxation unless it is moved on behalf of Government.

Mukunda says it is unfair that MPs in 2012 passed an amendment where employees who earn over 10 million Shillings pay 40 percent of their taxes in Pay as You Earn-PAYE tax. He says the march is a nationwide campaign to support the president's stand on income tax.

The bill has been returned to parliament by the President, for the second time.  According to Article 91(5) of the Constitution, when the President returns the Bill twice and it is passed for a third time by parliament, with the support of at least two thirds of MPs, the Speaker causes a copy of the Bill to be laid before Parliament and the Bill shall become law without the assent of the President.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.