URA hopeful of meeting new tax collection target

URA’s Commissioner General Doris Akol (L) speaks with Kampala City Traders Association vice chairperson Hope Katwiine after a meeting involving traders recently. PHOTO BY RACHAEL AJWANG

Kampala. After registering a revenue shortfall of about Shs500 billion in the previous financial year, the biggest shortfall in 10 years, the tax body’s Commissioner General, Ms Doris Akol, has said the institution is determined to beat any revenue collection target the government sets for them.
In the coming financial year (2015/16), the government is expected to raise Shs18.3 trillion, with slightly more than half of that Budget being collected internally.

At the moment, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is expected to collect nearly Shs11 trillion although it is believed this target will be reviewed with a view of pushing it to at least shs15 trillion.
Speaking in an interview after an engagement with traders from down town Kampala last week, Ms Akol said the collection target for the next financial year is still a proposal that is yet to be confirmed.
Nonetheless, as enforcers, she said they are ready to take on the challenge.
She said: “Every year, we get a revenue target of taxes that we must collect. “We have met whatever target we have been given and sometimes surpassed it.”

She continued: “Whatever target we are given, I am confident with the support of all taxpayers in Uganda that we shall meet it.”
In the previous financial year, the revenue collection body registered a shortfall of about Shs500 billion, an amount of money that is 33 times the budget allocated to Uganda National Bureau of Standards, a government agency charged with fighting substandard and counterfeit goods from making it to the local shelves.

Finance minister Matia Kasaija has since proposed new taxes on fuel, commuter taxis, beer, cigarettes, chewing gum, sweets and chocolates, saying these are areas that the collection would be recouped from.
In an earlier interview, Mr Muhammad Ssempijja, a tax expert described the proposals as unfair; especially the one on fuel, saying it will negatively impact on poor people. He said as long as the economy is not being driven by investments—both private and public, then tax collection will always be poor, given that these two are related.
Meanwhile, the downtown traders want the computation of their taxes to be simplified. They said they do not understand the current assessment, suggesting that it should be a flat rate, just the way the licence levy is. This, if done, will enhance compliance, they argued.

In this financial year 2014/15 (July 2014 to June 2015), the tax body is expected to collect Shs9.5 trillion after collecting about Shs8 trillion in financial year 2013/14, registering a deficit of about Shs500 billion.
During the period of July 2014 to February 2015, URA collected Shs6.131 trillion against a target of Shs 6.113 trillion, translating into 18 billion surplus and a growth of 18 per cent.