PARLIAMENT – As the scrutiny into the amendments entered the fourth day, there was drama in Parliament when MPs on the Finance Committee threw out a group of Civil Society activists from Tax Justice Alliance Uganda after they criticized the size of the current Parliament saying it is bloated and affecting public expenditure.
This was during the scrutiny into the Excise Duty Amendment Bill (No.2), where Government is proposing to reduce the tax on mobile money from 1% to 0.5% on mobile money withdrawals before the Committee of Finance.
The Activists dreadful moment started when the team tabled their presentation highlighting the effects of the Shs200 daily tax Social media, something the Committee rejected stating that the subject isn’t part of their menu.
The team rejected the 0.5% tax on mobile money and advised Government to look at other avenues of generating income by looking back at the expenditure
“Check public administration expenditure particularly the oversized cabinet, bloated Parliament, the extensive network of presidential advisors and presidential assistants and a host of quasi-public service appointments such as RDCs that undermine cost efficiency
The statement enlisted anger from MPs with Chairperson, Henry Musasizi who demanded the team to speak on the subject matter remarking: “Don’t ask me for time and tell me this Parliament is useless, if it is useless, why do you come” Good thing you withdrew it, otherwise, it was going to be used against you. You should know your audience.”
In their statement, the activists pointed out that the tax introduced are symptoms of Uganda’s ailing economy and goes beyond the face value, an argument that was rejected by some MPs who wondered how activists expect Government to run the country if they are the same people criticizing the new tax proposals, foreign borrowing yet are quick to tell Government how the resources should be allocated.
The activists agreed to withdraw their statement and bring to Parliament a new one, but the MPs forced them to go away with their copies and not leave a piece behind Parliament.