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Buganda Kingdom hits at URA as taxation row over closure of K2 Telecom rages

Buganda Kingdom claim URA used a discriminative taxation policy to close K2 telecom offices over failure to pay Shs77.8m as PAYE in May 2018 (FILE PHOTO)

BULANGE – Buganda Kingdom has accused the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) of using a discriminative taxation policy during the closure of the kingdom’s K2 Telecom over failure to pay taxes totaling to Shs95.8m.

In May, URA closed offices belonging to the telecommunications company over failure to pay Shs77.8m in pay as you earn (PAYE) and Shs17m in local exercise duty.

However, Mr Waggwa Nsibirwa, the kingdom minister for the Treasury, on Monday castigated URA for targeting the company, arguing that there are many companies defaulting billions in tax which the tax collection body has not closed.

“We owe URA Shs90m but we were closed yet we know of many companies that owe the same body billions of money yet they are still in operation,” Mr Nsibirwa said while presenting a Shs96.45b financial budget for the kingdom for the 2018/2019 financial year at Bulange, Mengo.

K2 Telecom is Buganda owned with major shareholders, including Maria Kiwanuka and Kiwalabye Male. The telecommunications company which was established in 2013 offers both SMS and data service and has over 150,000 customers. At the closure, Ian Rumanyika, the Public Relations Officer at URA, said K2 Telecom failed to meet the terms of the memorandum of understanding that it had with URA since 2013.

The Buganda Minister of Finance, planning, Investment and Economic Development, Robert Waggwa Nsibirwa, prepares to read the Embalirira – kingdom budget – recently (FILE PHOTO)

On Monday, Mr Nsibirwa also accused URA of slapping a heavy tax on the kingdom’s brew, Ngule, that has crippled sales. The beer is produced by Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) for Majestic Brands – the investment arm of the kingdom.

Mr Nsibirwa also said government’s failure to pay its Shs172 billion in property arrears has crippling Mengo’s development plans.

In August 2013, the central government agreed to pay Shs172bn to Mengo for the former’s occupation of Mengo’s facilities and land since the 1960s when then Prime Minister Milton Obote ousted then President and King of Buganda Edward Muteesa II.

“Major targets could not be met as government did not remit any money it owes us but we moved forward through other avenues,” Mr Nsibirwa said, adding that they expected at least Shs2b from government but did not receive anything.

He said in the new financial year, the major focus by the kingdom will be to economically empower Kabaka’s subjects through promoting growing of coffee, bananas and cassava, to which Shs 5.5bn has been allocated.

Strengthening cooperatives will take Shs.1.5bn, health Shs.3.4bn, tourism shs.1.05bn; communication. 12bn; and Shs. 1.2bn was allocated for debt repayment.

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