Kadaga claims credit for tax-free diapers

 First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs Rebecca Kadaga (with a mask), dignitaries and members of Fida-Uganda in Ntinda, Kampala on September 15, 2023. PHOTO/KARIM MUYOBO 

What you need to know:

  • Ms Kadaga made the remarks during the commemoration of 50 years of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (Fida-Uganda) at their new home.

Former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said she blocked taxes on diapers on account of identifying with poor women and children during her 15 years at the helm of the House.

“I am disappointed that for 15 years, I blocked the taxes on diapers and sanitary towels [only for it to be passed later]. I harassed [minister Matia] Kasajja for 15 years every time he brought it [tax proposal]. I threw it out until he abandoned it,” Ms Kadaga,  who is now the first deputy prime minister and Minister for East African Affairs, said.

“How can you tax children, how can you tax the women, they are the ones spending the money for buying the diapers,” she added.

Ms Kadaga made the remarks during the commemoration of 50 years of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (Fida-Uganda) at their new home in Ntinda, Kampala, last Friday.

“It is important that we should regroup and help each other to chart the way forward. We need to continue working together,’’ she added.

On May 4, Parliament passed the Value Added Tax Amendment Bill, 2023 imposing an 18 percent tax on diapers. Under the new tax plans, all diapers whether for adults or children are being taxed by the government, which Ms Kadaga said affects women and children.

Former Ethics and Integrity minister Miria Matembe appreciated Ms Kadaga and credited the National Resistance Movement government of the 1990s for providing a conducive environment for women, saying it enabled them to prosper. 

“When NRM overthrew Tito Okello in 1986, the NRM came in and ushered in an environment which gave women energy to proper,” Ms Matembe said.

“The environment we blossomed in was a free one, I would attack Parliament and tomorrow I would credit the same Parliament,” she said.

Ms Matembe asked women to change tactics of mobilisation because ‘‘the new political environment does not favour physical mobilisation’’.

“When you ask for permission from the police, they will grant it, but when you start [assembling] they come and arrest you. So, this shows that going to demonstrate and protest against the bad vices will not work. There must be new strategies,” she said.

Ms Elizabeth Kemigisha, the advocacy manager of FIDA Uganda, appealed to Parliament to pass the Legal Aid Service Bill so that Ugandans access legal services.

“We continue to see cases of domestic violence, teenage pregnancies, land disputes, defilement, and rape in Karamoja Sub-region [for example]. We need legal services in place,” she said.

The latest Judiciary annual performance report released in August last year showed that the overall case backlog of all courts stood at 50,592 cases and the biggest backlog was at the High Court, with a total of 31, 6577 cases.