Govt, politicians top Shs 346bn list of domestic tax defaulters

Finance minister Matia Kasaija

Finance minister Matia Kasaija

Current and former members of parliament have been listed among the more than 800 individuals, government agencies and ministries, and companies that have defaulted paying taxes amounting up to Shs 346 billion.

This is contained in the ministry of Finance’s response to the issues raised by the opposition in parliament on the charter of fiscal responsibility for the financial year 2021/2022-2025/26. According to the list, individuals and private companies owe a sum of Shs 137 billion while government entities owe Shs 209 billion in unpaid taxes.   

The list shows that six current MPs have tax arrears. They are; state minister for Microfinance Haruna Kasolo with a tax bill of Shs 94 million, Cissy Namujju, the Lwengo Woman MP with Shs 51 million, Aringa South MP Allioni Yoke Odria with Shs 57 million, Nakaseke District Woman MP Sarah Najjuma with Shs 7 million, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP James Kakooza with Shs 950,000, and Bukoto South MP Twaha Kagabo Mzee with tax arrears of Shs 1.1 million.    

The former MPs include Odonga Otto (Shs 111 million), Julie Mukoda Zabwe (Shs 15 million), Sam Engola (Shs 32 million),  Fred Angella (Shs 20 million), Hatwib Katoto (Shs 65 million), Paul Amoru (Shs 2.8 million) Kenneth Lubogo (Shs 7 million), Crispus Ayena (Shs 8 million).  

The same list also has retired justice Steven Kavuma (Shs 4.4 million), retired justice Ralph Ochan (Shs 14 million) and local musician Joseph Mayanja aka Chameleone who has an outstanding debt of Shs 28 million.

The government entities that owe over Shs 209 billion include the ministry of Finance itself with unpaid tax commitments of Shs 150 billion, Office of the Prime Minister Shs 30 billion, Shs 13 billion owed by the ministry of Energy,  State House Shs 3.4 billion,  ministry of Water Shs 2 billion and ministry of Health Shs 3.4 billion among others.   

The other entities include Pioneer Easy Bus with tax arrears of Shs 5.7 billion, Uganda Telecom (UTL) Shs 72 million, Bata Shoe company Shs 245 million, Tomao Uganda Limited Shs 2.4 billion,  China Railway 7th Group Shs 150 million, Roofclad Limited Shs 2.9 billion, KMPG c/o Crown Beverages Shs 1 billion, Airtel Uganda Shs 764 million, Florence Baby Centre Limited Shs 1.3 billion, MTB Co. Limited with Shs 10 billion and Century Bottling Company Shs 3.9 billion, among others.

State minister for Finance Amos Lugolobi presented the list Wednesday after the parliamentary budget committee tasked the ministry to present a detailed statement on the state of domestic arrears, absorption of loans, and tax arrears. Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi says that it is sad to see leaders at the top of those who are not paying taxes.  
Buikwe South MP Bayigga Lulume says the government should not only focus on effectively collecting tax from the low-level income earners but from key government officials and politicians.

The MPs have also registered concern over the absence of a clear commitment by the government to clear domestic arrears which are suffocating the economy. While reviewing the government's charter of fiscal responsibility, MPs were shocked to learn that the government's domestic arrears have recently increased to Shs 4.1 trillion. 

Lugoloobi told the committee that they are moving to sanction accounting officers who continue to accumulate domestic arrears and many will face contract terminations if they continue with the practice.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd