Schools reject directive on registered suppliers

Students of Bishop Cipriano Kihangire prepare foodstuffs. Schools say registered suppliers charge high fees for their supplies, yet schools and parents are struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

What you need to know:

  • Schools say government should involve them before passing directives.

Proprietors of private schools across the country have rejected a new directive by the government mandating all schools to buy their school merchandise from registered suppliers possessing Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Uganda Revenue Authority.

The acting chairperson of the Proprietors of Private Educational Institutions’ Association in Uganda (PPEIAU), Mr Christopher Kaweesa, said registered suppliers charge high fees, yet schools are struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said they can only afford to negotiate better prices when they buy directly from the farmers.
“URA must understand how we run our schools on low budgets. When I am operating my school down here in Kyotera village, why should I travel all the way to Kampala to buy from registered service providers?”Mr Kaweesa asked.

“If URA insists on this matter, schools will just close or increase fees since we are operating on loans. Parents too still have debts to clear with the schools .We need to sit on a roundtable and find a workable solution,” he said.

Mr Kaweesa made the remarks during a meeting between proprietors of private schools across the country and officials from URA on tax obligation for private schools at URA offices in Nakawa yesterday.

TINs are identifying numbers allocated by URA to prospective taxi payers to enable them to meet their tax obligation. 

Some school heads say they have an arrangement with parents who supply them with foodstuffs in exchange for school fees.

The Director Morning Star Education Service Ndejje, Ms Mariah Nandyona Ssebuufu, said it is unfair that schools were excluded from the process of formulating the directive.

“If we put such parents to task to acquire TIN numbers, their children will drop out of school,” Ms Ssebuufu said.

The assistant commissioner of public and corporate affairs at URA, Mr Ibrahim Bbosa, said the move is meant to benefit schools, especially those acting as VAT collection agents. He, however, said they were going to dialogue with schools to see how the directive can work better.

A number of education institutions have been designated a collecting agent for VAT. VAT is a consumption tax.

Ms Sarah Chelangat Muzungyo, the commissioner domestic taxes at URA, said they will study the requests from private school owners and later respond to their queries. 

URA officials asked all schools to file their returns to the authority to enable URA determine how much tax each school should pay.

Mr David Rusoke, the manager of Literacy at URA, said schools are supposed to remit various taxes to URA, including Pay as You Earn from employment, NSSF, Licenses, indirect taxes, Local service tax and ground rent.


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