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Hundreds demonstrate against MPs tax exemption

Hundreds of Ugandans today took to the streets of the capital Kampala to protest against a move by Members of Parliament to exempt themselves from paying income tax off their allowances.

Over 500 citizens and activists from different parts of the country assembled at Railway headquarters grounds and matched to UMA show grounds in Lugogo from where they read a statement to the president asking him to stop the ‘greed’ exhibited by Ugandan legislators.

With the bolice band in the lead, and several police officers guiding protestors through the journey, they marched through the streets carrying placards and banners, with messages castigating MPs for plotting to evade taxes.

'I pay my tax why not you,' read one of the inscriptions on a manila placard, among so many other messages.  Protestors told URN that tax evasion is both undemocratic and irresponsible.

Mugoya Wilson, a protestor from Iganga district said that by exempting themselves from paying taxes, legislators are proving that they do not care about the welfare of the rest of the country.  He adds that payment of taxes should be a responsibility of every citizen, specifically those holding positions of leadership.
“The whole country can’t survive without paying taxes. That is why you see everything whether you grow your maize or you want to sell, there is what we call a production tax. The boda bodas they go to a petrol station [and] they also pay taxes. I buy fuel [so] pay taxes. That is why we are here. They are saying they wont pay, why should they not pay?," Mugoya said.
Mary Kazibwe, a protestor from Luwero district says that failure to pay taxes affects the tax base from which government gets resources to extend services to its people.

While Ruth Logose, a councillor from Kibuku district asked the electorate to recall those members of parliament who are bent on sidestepping their responsibility.
“On the issue of MPs refusing to pay tax like on this Shs 4 million constituency allowance, these people do not even come to the constituencies to talk to people. We want them to pay tax because we want others to also get [social services]. The blood of government is tax," Logose said.

Mbabaali Sulaiman from Lyantonde district says Ugandans need to work collectively to stop the move.
“MPs should know that this country is not for them. It is for the purpose of serving the society. So once they were elected to parliament, they should ensure that their mandate is to at least pass laws that are beneficial to all Ugandans. So they should have a Ugandan heart not to exempt themselves because they were voted this year by the same Ugandans. So they should be behind us on this cause. We’re not fighting them but we’re fighting for the cause of the whole nation."
Malik Nyackyirra from the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) says that there are good signs that the tax exemption will fail since the president and the public are against it.

Omara Olem, from Lira district local government says the MPs should not forget that they were voted into offices by people who still hold the mandate over their stay in office.
“For the first time am happy with our president because he has returned it [Income Tax Bill] back to parliament. But if members of parliament make this law automatically, they will also have to meet us in their different constituents. My Member of Parliament is Jimmy James Akena Obore and am appealing to him, he should stop being greedy. Our members of parliament are too greedy. They say if they die, we must burry them [using taxpayers money] but they don’t want to pay tax. They should stop being greedy members of parliament.”
Julius Mukunda, the CSBAG coordinator states that whereas the constitution allows for MPs to determine their emoluments, article 93(a) restricts parliament from proceeding upon a bill and or a motion on financial matters especially on taxation unless it is moved on behalf of government.

Mukunda says it is unfair that MPs in 2012 passed an amendment where employees who earn over Shs 10 million pay 40 per cent of their taxes in pay as You Earn-PAYE tax. He says the march is a nationwide campaign to support the president's stand on income tax.

The bill has been returned to parliament by the President, for the second time.  According to Article 91(5) of the Constitution, when the president returns the bill twice and it is passed for a third time by parliament, with the support of at least two thirds of MPs, the Speaker causes a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament and the bill shall become law without the assent of the President.


0 #1 lubabuka 2016-12-09 08:50
Let the MPs go back to their constituencies and consult their electorate on the issue.

An undertaking can be reached where the MPs benefits may be of use to the constituents.
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