KAMPALA – Rice growers, millers and traders have petitioned parliament over discriminative and unfair taxation seeking for equal treatment in this business, saying foreign companies have pushed locals out of the rice business.
The call was made yesterday where players in the rice business handed over their petition to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said that when the Value Added Tax Amendment Act 2014 came into effect attracted 18% on rice importation but 14 rice companies protested this tax and went to court where they lost the case in favour of URA and later appealed.
Led by Isaac Kashaija, Chairperson Rice Business Sector Association said that in appealing the case, the 14 companies refused to pay 18% VAT tax as they wait for the court case disposed off yet others rice growers and traders are being compelled to pay 18% VAT creating unfair competition.
He said that as a result of temporary exemption to the 14 companies local rice production has gone down and farmers are switching to growing other crops which have fair taxation.
Kashaija explained, “This has impacted the sector when this rice is imported it is untaxed, it is sold at a cheaper price, 2500 yet our fellow farmers sell at 300, farmers are losing production has gone down by 60,000 metric tons we think it is going to go down more because most farmers have abandoned rice growing.”
Magdalene Nasolo who used to import rice through Mutukula border said the tax measure pushed a number of women into poverty, having lost their main source of income noting, “I have spent 10years trading in rice, it is because of taxes that I left business, the foreigners are exempted from VAT while Ugandans are forced to pay VAT. Women have been very hard working but women were have been left with no source of income something that has further dragged us down.”
The rice growers asked parliament to prevail over government to compel all companies importing white rice in Uganda to paying 18% VAT as per the current VAT Act and also asked to inquire why Court of Appeal has taken 5years without hearing their application.
The speaker promised to report the matter to parliament and request the Attorney General to explain why there is a delay to dispose of this case in court.
“This issue is a bit tricky, but what we shall do is have the petition presented on the floor of Parliament but at the same time demand an answer from the Attorney General on the temporary permanent injunction because 5years. We shall not be subjudice, we shall be asking what the way forward is,” said Kadaga.