PARLIAMENT – The move by David Bahati, State Minister for Planning to justify the latest tax measures by making a comparison of taxes Uganda collected between 1986 when President Yoweri Museveni took power and the current tax collections failed miserably when his NRM counterparts described the comparisons as outdated for the current generation.
Bahati had appeared before the Committee of Finance to introduce the tax measures of 2019/2020 financial year and the Minister said the move is aimed at improving Uganda’s financial independence and reduce on reliance of donor aid.
The Minister said: “In 1986, revenue collections stood at Shs5Bn only. This revenue has grown to Shs15.507Trn in 2017/2018 and it is expected to grow to Shs16.668Trn in 2019/2020. The aim is to continue to grow this revenue until the proportion of domestic revenue financing the national budget gets a minimum of 80% by 2022/2023. It should be our plight that we strike to be economically independent.”
However in unprecedented move, Patrick Isiagi (Kachumbala County) who also doubles as Vice Chairperson of Budget Committee asked the Minister to consider the possibility of bringing Parliament more comparable figures instead of continuously taking back Ugandans to 1986 when the exchange rate has changed since then.
“I think the country should stop making comparative issues with 1986, it is so far, it doesn’t make sense. At least you go five to ten years. If you tell me we used to collect Shs5Bn in 1986 I don’t understand why. I think next time, let us abandon that years, we have passed that level,” said Isiagi.
Isiagi was supported by his NRM counterparts like Jovah Kamateeka and Amos Lugoloobi who concurred that the 1986 talk is outdated and were joined by FDC’s Nandala Mafabi who argued; “When you are comparing you should compare the incomparable, if we want to be fair we should convert it to dollars, you will discover that we got more taxes then. Don’t go in 1986, you are making it worse.”