MPs Task Districts On Local Revenue Collection

1874 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Legislators sitting on the Local Government Accounts Committee want districts to revolutionise strategies for local revenue mobilisation and collection for effective service delivery. Reagan Okumu, the Chairperson of the Committee says districts recruit and maintain large pools of inhospitable law enforcement officers to collect their revenue. He says the law enforcement officers rely on intimidation of tax payers to achieve their missions.

Legislators sitting on the Local Government Accounts Committee want districts to revolutionise strategies for local revenue mobilisation and collection for effective service delivery.
 
They say most local governments are struggling to collect their projected revenue due to various chronic challenges within their systems. The impact, they say, is poor service delivery to the people.

The MPs cite the use of unqualified law enforcement officers among challenges hindering high tax collections in Uganda.
 
Reagan Okumu, the Chairperson of the Committee says districts recruit and maintain large pools of inhospitable law enforcement officers to collect their revenue. He says the law enforcement officers rely on intimidation of tax payers to achieve their missions.
 
"It is common to see errant individuals who behave as if they are half mad engaging in uncivilised methods of revenue collection. You see them kicking tax payers on the streets of Uganda for failing to pay their taxes," says Okumu, the Aswa County Member of Parliament.

He proposes a review of contracts for all revenue enforcement officers.
 
Okumu, while speaking in Gulu on Tuesday, said introducing minimum qualification in revenue collection will eliminate unprofessional methods being used.
 
Francis Baryabanawe, the town clerk of Gulu Municipality had blamed their dismal performance in revenue collection on law enforcement officers.
 
"Mr. Chairman, whenever I go to the field with law enforcement officers, they abandon me in the field. And we have noticed cases of connivance with tax payers to evade taxes," Baryabanawe said.
 
The Auditor General in his 2016 report noted that Gulu Municipality collected Shillings 1.59 billion out of the projected Shillings 1.7 billion in 2016.
 
Regulation 32 of the Local Governments Financial and Accounting Regulations 2007 states  that  the  Head  of  Finance  is  responsible  for  ensuring  that  revenue  collectors carry  out  their duties properly to ensure that all revenue due to the council  is promptly collected in the approved manner and banked intact.
 
However, Samuel Musana, the Parliamentary Liaison Principal Auditor said most decentralised governments are failing to plug gaps through which revenue continues to leak to enforcement officers.
 
Major sources of revenue for local governments in Uganda include property rates, licenses and permits, hotel tax, local service tax, market dues and parking fees amongst others.  
 
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About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.