Saturday December 1 2012

Graft constraints tax compliance - URA



The Uganda Revenue Authority has joined the growing list of organisations demanding for accountability from the Finance ministry on money that it collects and remits to government. The tax body and the PricewaterhouseCoopers are also calling on Ugandans to rise up and demand that government recovers money lost through corruption.

Tales of massive corruption have in the recent months rocked the country, with investigation now being carried out into the mismanagement, abuse and possible embezzlement of funds meant for peace recovery in northern Uganda, pension scam under the Public Service ministry, where billions were paid to ghost pensioners and other ministries.

According to a senior URA official, grand scale corruption in government is frustrating tax body’s attempts to collect revenue and for that the Authority has since added itself another role: questioning how government spends the taxes it collects. “Our role is to collect and not allocation. But that has since changed,” the URA Commissioner for Domestic Taxes, Mr Moses Kajubi, said on Thursday during the launching of the Paying Taxes report In Kampala.

Finance ministry put to task
Responding to a question on compliance, Mr Kajubi said URA has since started demanding answers from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning after it became apparently obvious that tax compliance is seemingly hampered by the grand scale corruption in government ministries and department.

“Why should we collect money only to be taken away by one man or a group of people?” asked Mr Kajubi. “That makes it hard for us to collect much taxes as we would want. And because of that we would like to see people being held accountable for such grand corruption cases.”

But this, according to Francis Kamulegeya, the PricewaterhouseCoopers country senior partner, can quickly happen if the population becomes assertive. “Development partners (donors) who finance our budget to a tune of 20 per cent have come out strongly and cut their aid while Ugandans who pay the 80 per cent are looking on quietly,” he said.

Mr Kamulegeya is of the view that Ugandans should be able to stand up and demand for accountability of their taxes more assertively given that they do the biggest contribution rather than waiting for donors to do it for them.