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We are choking! Fort Portal market traders decry high taxes

A market in Fort Portal. Market traders in Fort Portal Municipality have cried foul over the increased taxes. (PHOTO/File)

KABAROLE – Market traders in Fort Portal Municipality have said the high taxes imposed by the authorities are kicking them out of business.

The traders at Kabudaire market said the municipal authorities did not consult them before increasing the taxes.

“We are not making any profit because we were forced to increase prices of our products, a thing that has kept away our customers,” Mr Kasoke Idi Mubaraka, the market chairperson, said on Tuesday.

As part of the new rates, the traders said a crate of tomatoes is now taxed at UGX3,500 up from UGX1,000, a pickup of watermelon was increased from UGX20,000 to UGX50,000 among others.

Ms Janet Businge, a trader, said the tax collectors harass them to pay the taxes while the majority of the traders got loans from banks at high-interest rates.

The chairman Kabundaire Farmers Market, Mr Kasoke Idi Mubaraka, said the high taxes were imposed on the traders without notice and that is the reason why some are not paying on time.

“We would wish that the municipality officials first consult the traders because we work under harsh conditions, especially those who sell fresh foods in open places and on bare ground. We wish the authorities can address such problems before they increase the taxes,” Kasoke said.

He said traders want the urban authority to allow them to start paying licences instead of imposing other taxes on them.

The Mayor Fort Portal Municipality, Rev. Kintu Willy Muhanga, said they imposed the new rates because the government abolished the taxes on buses from which they used to collect over UGX600 million annually.

“In 2017, President Museveni stopped all urban authorities from collecting taxes of buses and that was our big source of local revenue as an institution,” Muhanga said.

He said after the government scrapped off taxes for buses, it did not create an alternative source of local revenue for urban authorities which affected their budget operations.

“Our people need services and as an institution, we need more resources to sustain our coming Tourism city and we need our traders to cooperate with us and we are going to sit and revise the taxes imposed on them I want them to be patient,” Muhanga said.

Fort Portal Municipal in this financial year budgeted Shs 19 billion with local revenue estimates at UGX 2 billion.

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