Let’s aim for economic self-sufficiency

Friday May 14 2021
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John R. Musinguzi

By Guest Writer

The formation of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in 1991 was one of the government’s major reforms aimed at improving our economic performance and self-sustenance as a nation. 

This is a mandate that URA takes sacred and over the years has discharged as evidenced in its revenue mobilisation efforts.

There has been significant improvement in revenue collections from the time the NRM government ascended to power up to date. 

Domestic revenue collections have improved from Shs5 billion in the Financial Year 1985/86, to Shs17.6 trillion in the FY 2019/20. There has also been a rise of the tax to GDP ratio from 5.3 per cent in FY1985/86 to 13 per cent in FY2019/20 after rebasing.  

Whereas this growth is commendable, the journey ahead is still steep for us as a nation to fully fund our national expenditure.  

Currently, we are funding 47 per cent of the national budget with a tax to GDP ratio of 13 per cent, the lowest and below the average sub-Saharan African performance of 16 per cent. For Uganda to attain self-sufficiency, we need to at least double our tax to GDP ratio from the current 13 to 26 per cent.

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As an organisation, our aspiration and motivation is to mobilise enough revenue for comprehensive national development for the current and future generations, a journey we have recommitted to walk with all citizens. 

To this end, URA has instituted mechanisms 
to identify and facilitate eligible citizens and economic players to contribute to the revenue basket so that we are fully self-reliant. All these initiatives are within the ambit of the government’s five-year Domestic Revenue Mobilisation Strategy, and they include:  

 Leveraging the use of technology. We have strengthened the use of technology to enhance the taxpayers’ experience and revenue administration. 

We have adopted the use of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics to identify potential revenue, revenue leakages and also enhance our efficiency in evidence-based decision making.

We are stepping up the use of satellite technologies, cargo tracking systems, and non-intrusive inspection technologies to facilitate trade. 

We have also rolled out smart business solutions such as the digital tracking solution and electronic fiscal receipting and invoicing system to improve the collection of local excise duty and VAT respectively. 

We are emphasising professional research in support of tax policy and tax administration interventions to expand the tax base and also shape the economy’s recovery from the Covid-19 effects.

 Mobilisation of revenue is a collective effort and we have embarked on improving our stakeholder relations and engagements with the private sector, government agencies, and external revenue administration bodies to leverage each other’s strength in achieving our mandate.

To further encourage voluntary compliance, we have adopted the use of alternative dispute resolution to amicably resolve tax disputes with taxpayers. We have embarked on a service-centric approach by listening more to the concerns of the taxpayers and being more understanding. 

We are also encouraging taxpayers to embrace the voluntary disclosure avenue by doing a tax health check and cleaning their tax accounts with us without being penalised.  

We have purposed to demystify the tax regime and make it easily understood, through an elaborate tax education programme. We are implementing a needs-based strategy that will equip all our taxpayers with the relevant knowledge to tax. 

We have equally re-committed ourselves to be more efficient and transparent in what we do. 

By the end of the FY 2024/25, we are projecting to collect Shs44trillion and GDP should be at 18-20 per cent.  We strongly believe that under the able leadership of the NRM, and combined efforts of all citizens, Uganda will secure its economic self-sufficiency.

Mr John R.Musinguzi is the commissioner general of Uganda Revenue Authority 

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