What you need to know:
- Mr Musinguzi said there has not been a staff salary review since 2012, adding that their salaries are ‘very low’ because a big chunk of their payments is peeled away in form of taxes such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is in pursuit of at least Shs106b to cater for the upward revision of its staff salaries in the incoming financial year 2022/23.
Additionally, the tax body wants Shs16.64b to recruit an extra 114 staff besides the 600 whose recruitment process is already ongoing and believed to be near completion.
As he presented the URA 2022/23 Budget Framework Paper to lawmakers on Parliament’s Budget Committee on Friday afternoon, the URA Commissioner General Mr John Musinguzi defended the need for salary increment saying it was long overdue.
In the same submissions made to Parliament, URA indicates at least Shs205.4b is to be spent on covering salaries of the current pool of staff. If approved, this implies that at least Shs328b will be spent on staff alone in the financial year 2022/23.
Mr Musinguzi said there has not been a staff salary review since 2012, adding that their salaries are ‘very low’ because a big chunk of their payments is peeled away in form of taxes such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
“So, the actual take home for staff is very low and it is becoming an issue especially in the era when we are trying to promote integrity and total accountability,” Mr Musinguzi said.
He added: “So, you find a staff walks home with hardly money to meet basic needs like rent. So, we pray [that] you look at this favorably and we improve welfare for staff.”
This, however, rubbed some lawmakers on the committee the wrong way with majority opposing the request, arguing that the economy is already crippled and most sectors are struggling to get resuscitated.
Mbale Industrial Division legislator, Mr Karim Masaba, said URA’s request is untimely noting that priority must instead be placed on ways of reawakening the Covid-19 stricken economy.
“Don’t you think as a country, we need to revise and look at these tax laws? I am requesting you to give us an honest view because if you the people working in URA are complaining of being squeezed, how about other people out there who are working in banks and are earning less than Shs1 million,” Mr Masaba said.
In response, Mr Musinguzi insisted on having the salary increment effected reasoning that emoluments of URA staff is way below the global standards that counterparts in other countries earn for the similar job.
Unlike his counterparts, the Kashongi County lawmaker, Mr Herbert Tayebwa seconded the proposal to scale-up URA staff salaries.
“I really want to say that they need to improve their staff emoluments in order to attract good brains. Let them improve their staff emoluments so that they are able to have dedicated staff,” Mr Tayebwa said.
The tax body also wants Shs1.8 billion to rent an outlet to handle a big chunk of taxpayers operating in busy places around downtown in Kampala. This, URA reasoned is due to countless complaints filed by the business community in downtown about the long distance they have to trek to Nakawa-based offices to meet their tax obligations and other transactions.
Additionally, tax collector wants Shs21 billion to cater for maintenance of its offices in the new building headquartered at Nakawa, east of Kampala, something the shadow minister for Finance Mr Muwanga Kivumbi was quick to object.
“How can a 21-storied building flood? And then after giving you so much money to build, you also want Shs21b for maintenance of the building. So, what if you had stayed renting, how much money were renting? Even when you build, we give you so many building to maintain, sweep and clean. You can sell off that building and you rent it, it will be cheaper for Government,” Mr Kivumbi said.