Former Agriculture Minister Hon Victoria Sekitoleko has asked the government to scrap taxes to enable youth to thrive in businesses.
She was Friday speaking during a Post-Budget Dialogue running under the theme: “Full monetization of the Ugandan Economy through commercial agriculture, industrialization, market access and digital transformation: The Private Sector perspective.”
“The existing taxes are hindering youths from doing effective businesses,” said Sekitoleko, who is also the Vice-Chair of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).
She said Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has made itself the judge, jury and executioner in matters of taxation which, in due course, has frustrated the private sector.
“URA is the judge and jury in taxation, this should be resolved. We should stop making URA the judge and jury in regards to taxation,” she reiterated.
She recalled how during the Budget Speech reading, the Minister of Finance, Hon Matia Kasaija, kept talking about the fact that there are no new taxes.
“But the truth is that the old taxes are strangling us and they actually had nowhere to put the new taxes,” she emphasized.
“When you have a budget that doesn’t favor the youth yet they are the majority in the country it’s not good.”
According to her, the government bringing no new taxes doesn’t hold water because the already existing taxes are suffocating youth from doing effective businesses.
“Majority of Ugandans are the Youth, when you read a budget which doesn’t raise the happiness of the youth, then there is nothing to be happy about as a grandparent.”
“As a grandmother, I’m not happy with the budget because it doesn’t favor the youth yet they’re the majority in the country,” she added.
When asked what can be done about the matter, she replied: “Let Uganda do what it can. And what is it? Just take away these taxes.”
Damali Ssali, the new Chief Programs and Projects Officer, said another key recommendation that PSFU made was that the various tax regimes are stable for at least 3 years to ensure predictability of the investments.
Speaking during the dialogue, Rajesh Chaplot, Chair PSFU Policy Advocacy Committee, said many MDAs are abusing Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) guidelines due to some loopholes.
He asked the Finance Ministry, through this budget procedure, to amend these flaws in the law.
“Many MDAs are giving procurement order to companies which are registered in Uganda, irrespective of the fact that they are importing 100% of the goods or services from outside Uganda. These MDAs still call the supply under BUBU, as a company registered in Uganda. This needs to be handled,” he stated.
Hon. Elly Karuhanga, PSFU Board Chairman, said the dialogue will be held at both national and at sub-national levels to capture the youth voices from Arua, Lira, Jinja, Gulu, Soroti, Masaka, Mbarara, Hoima, and Kabale.
“The young people will be fully integrated into all the various budget activities at both the National and sub-national levels,” he revealed.
Dr. Gudula Basaza, Managing Director Guidie Leisure Farm, on her part, said a lot of people think that agriculture is for those who have failed at academics or those who didn’t go to school.
“I hope this mindset changes because It’s a profession and we need professionals. We have to change the mindset of thinking that agriculture is for those who have failed at academics. It is a profession and we need professionals running the whole value chain,” she noted.
She added: “We are going to deliver the Uganda we want but this will call for participation from all sectors.”