KAMPALA – Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has directed the Parliamentary Finance Committee to examine the petition by the manufacturers and consumers of beverages in Uganda after they petitioned Parliament calling for halt into the implementation of the current digital tax stamp requirement by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Taking to the floor to present the petition was Gideon Onyango (Samia Bugwe North) who called for an investigation into how URA settled for SICPA- South Africa as selected contractor saying the selection flouted Uganda’s procurement laws.
The group accused URA of totally disregarding and abusing the existing procurement laws, with Onyango arguing, “Ugandans were locked out of the whole process that denied the country of revenue and capital flight. That these are the same machines owned by UPPCC (Uganda Printing & Publishing Corporation) and Uganda Security Printing Company Limited and that they have local capacity to implement the Digital tax system.”
The group also raised queried on decision by URA on the issuance of Digital Tax Stamps at varying costs like Shs15 for a bottle of water, Shs20 for a bottle Soda, Shs55 for a bottle of beer, Shs80 for a packet of Tobacco and Shs185 for a bottle of Spirit and wines describing this as discriminatory and yet the Digital Tax Stamp is the same and its purpose is only to track and trace the product.
The Petitioners also warned that giving green light to URA to implement the Digital Tax Stamps will increase cost of production and will put legitimate manufacturers out of business and yet little has been done to bring the informal sectors into the formal sector, “This presents a further risk of ordinary Ugandan resorting to illegal drinks that are less expensive and that are a health risk,” said Onyango.
The petitioners made a number of pleas among which include, calls to have Parliament to place a halt on the Digital Tax Stamps until committee investigates the procurement procedures and all matter put in the petition.
The beverage manufacturers also want Parliament to investigate the cost of the stamps, selective method of implementation and mechanisms to bring the informal sector to taxable capacity prior to the implementation of the tax measures.