KAMPALA – A new study shows that many women led small scale businesses markets across the country are chocking down or even collapsing largely because of daily illegal dues they are paying
The findings follow a Rapid Gender Impact Assessment of current taxation and user fees on micro and small enterprises in Urban Markets in Uganda sanctioned by the Council for Economic Empowerment for Women of Africa – Uganda Chapter and SEATINI-Uganda
The findings show that many women led businesses are not growing because part of their capital is used to meet daily charges imposed by Urban Authorities and Local Governments. The charges include fees for garbage collection, security, toilets among others.
While speaking at a validation workshop of the study at the Fairway hotel in Kampala, the Executive Director at SEATINI-Uganda Jane Nalunga said that the services women are paying for should be carried out for free
These small scale traders in markets especially women get money from their small capital to pay for services such as security, toilets, garbage collection among others, all these should be provided for free by urban authorities such as KCCA and local Governments. The mere fact that these small scale traders have little capital, any extra charges especially those which are illegal contribute to stagnation or collapse of their businesses” Nalunga explained
The Executive Director at the Council for Economic Empowerment for Women of Africa Florence Nightingale Kuteesa says Government must take action to avoid frustrating small scale business that provide incomes to many Ugandans. She advised on what should be done to avoid frustrating the small scale business people
“I want to advise Government especially the ministry of Finance, planning and economic development plus the local Government councils that before they impose any taxes or dues, they first carry out studies or assessments to understand the likely impact of such measures on the majority small scale traders. We are talking about the lowest earners in this country who wake daily to look for some little money using the smallest investments they have. Why should they be punished through these daily illegal dues?” Ms Kuteesa submitted
The women activists have also condemned the manner in which women are treated by law enforcement officers and market authorities who collect the dues saying this should stop. Kuteesa also advised that some outdated laws such as the market act be amended
“The market act came into force in 1942. It’s now outdated and does not take into account how markets have changed in the country. This law should be amended to remove some unpopular aspects especially provisions that make market women potential victims. The law is also not clear and that is why we continue seeing fights in markets” Ms Kuteesa emphasized
Meanwhile Government has embarked on the automation of the administration and management of local Government revenues in the bid to promote fare taxation and protect resources collected. The integrated revenue administration system which is an upgrade to the local revenue data base management system will be rolled out to all local Governments within the next three years
The Director local Government revenues and research at the Local Government Finance Commission Adam Babale says that the system will address the outcry of small scale traders such as women in markets because only official fees or taxes will be collected
“This system allows taxpayers to make payments and this removes the current challenge of some unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of them. They can pay using mobile money which is much easier. Because of this automation, only official dues are catered for so illegal charges like what the women have complained about are not allowed onto the system” Mr Babale said.