Uganda Opposition helpless on new tax laws, says LoP

Ms_Winnie_Kiiza
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winnie Kiiza

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza said on Wednesday that opposition MPs cannot alter the new taxes.

Ms Kiiza was addressing the media on the infamous taxes on social media and mobile money.
She said that calls for a private members bill, to cause amendments in the tax laws cannot be granted by the government.

“ Tax collection is a responsibility of the government, there is no individual who can bring a tax policy that is supposed to be implemented by the government,” she said adding that, “remember any law brought by an individual must be budget neutral; it must not increase or decrease on the monies of the country.”

Last week, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asked the cabinet to present an amendment to the Excise Duty Act 2018, which slaps a Shs 200 levy on social media and one percent on all mobile money transactions.

The amendment is to operationalise the presidential directive which trims the tax on mobile money to 0.5 percent from what was earlier passed.
Without such an amendment, the Speaker said the law will stand as was passed.

She however warned that any form of dilly-dallying by cabinet will create room for Parliament to receive a private members bill.

However, Ms Kiiza, said that the provision for private members bills does not apply to tax laws since they are concerned with collection of money.
She said that if the law was flexible, the opposition would have fronted the public concerns through an amendment.

In 2014, when the government failed to amend the Children’s Act, opposition lawmakers led by Mr Bernard Atiku (FDC, Ayivu County) presented a private members bill which was adopted by Parliament in 2015.
A similar occurrence happened last year, when Mr Raphael Magyezi (NRM, Igara West) presented an amendment to the Constitution to lift the age limit cap for presidential candidates after the government shied away from presenting the amendment.

All these amendments according to Ms Kiiza were not directly linked to money as the case is with the excise duty tax.

However, not all is lost, the Leader of Opposition said.
She implored all “pro-people vices” to rally behind the ordinary population and oppose the tax, saying it violates the principals of taxation.

“We believe that this law is illegal, immoral and unjustified,” she said. The legislator also said they will carry out a series of protests in different parts of the country to defeat the tax.

Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition implored legislators to resist the armoured vehicles and sharp-shooters as they will increase Public expenditure that comes with heavy taxes from the citizens.