ARUA. Officials from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) spent the better part of Tuesday in Arua urging the locals in the West Nile region to be tax compliant.
This, according to the officials, will enable the Government to offer the necessary services required in the region with ease.
The officials made the appeal during the post-budget engagement that attracted hundreds of locals across the region at Heritage Courts hotel in Arua town.
During the meeting, James Abola, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of tax who also represented the URA Commissioner General observed that services such as roads, electricity, water, and Health and Education infrastructure can easily be attracted when citizens are tax compliant.
“The current financial year is about to end, and I want to thank you taxpayers because when the Ministry of Finance gives a target, it is not for URA but that target is for Ugandans. We want to thank you that in the months of March, April, May and June, we have been meeting our monthly targets,” Abola said.
“We know that at the beginning of the year, things were difficult following the lockdown that came with Covid but as the economy picked up, tax payers have also shown up and paid up their share of taxes and that is why we were able to hit the target.
When we do that, we are contributing to our sovereignty as a nation,” Abola added.
Abola used the opportunity to appeal to the people who have not been paying their taxes to do so, saying it is not yet too late for them to contribute to the development of the country.
“You still have two to three days to catch up with the rest that have been paying their taxes so that on July 1st when we announce the figure, you also say I am counted among the people who are tax compliant. So, as URA, we are committed to doing everything within our reach to ensure that the revenue mobilization days that have been achieved in the recent past are not only consolidated but improved further upon so that indeed we can make Uganda to be an economically independent country,” Abola said.
Similarly, Alexander Lubanga, the URA Manager in charge of Tariff said as URA, they work together with the population to ensure that tax collection is made easier.
“We can’t collect taxes when we don’t work together and collaborate with the taxpayers. So, it is very prudent for us as URA to engage with you and give you information so that we can walk this tax collection journey together,” Lubanga said.
“Now this coming financial year 2022/2023, the government didn’t introduce any new taxes because the government recognizes that Covid had a very serious impact on the population and not only us but globally. And based on that as the economy started to revamp, the government felt that rather let us consolidate what we have. We can collect taxes by expanding the taxpayer register so that is the current policy that the government has,” Lubanga stated.
Moses Obeta, the Arua Business Community chairperson commended URA for the engagement, saying it has been the missing link between the tax payers and URA.
“I’m grateful that out of the services you have been doing for the last 30 years, I’m already seeing positive changes in the quality of the services that we receive as citizens. We really want to appreciate that. We have seen that now you have built roads, we see our hospitals have been built, we are getting the power here though it is still in process, and all this is out of the tax that we pay. We appreciate that government has tried to divide and see that we all benefit,” Obeta said.
He, however, said it puts him off when URA says that the region only contributes Shs10 billion in taxes.
“There are various ways in which we pay these taxes. I don’t know whether you calculate or you collect all of them. We have these taxes we pay as registered taxpayers, there are also contributions our sons make; they go to Kinyara and work under the sugarcanes , which ends up generating incomes but I don’t know whether you value such indirect income that we contribute as West Nile?” Obeta wondered.
He urged URA to bring out the real position of West Nile when it comes to contributing taxes to the national coffers.
The function was also graced by some Members of Parliament hailing from West Nile, RDCs, Local district and City political leaders who appealed to URA to show human face to the locals especially when collecting tax.