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Minister Withdraws Amendments to Finance, URA Act

Under the Finance (Amendment Bill), 2022, the government had proposed to repeal the Finance Act, of 2012.
The Minister of State for Finance- General Duties, Henry Musasizi.

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The Minister of State for Finance- General Duties, Henry Musasizi has withdrawn two tax Bills from parliament.   The Bills are the Finance (Amendment Bill), 2022, and the Uganda Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Under the Finance (Amendment Bill), 2022, the government had proposed to repeal the Finance Act, of 2012.

The Bill sought to adjust Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) rates to provide that government will no longer use the Act to make any NTR adjustments or introduce new NTR sources. This meant that any introduction of new rates or adjustments in the existing NTR rates of the respective laws must be initiated by the parent Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

Musasizi had earlier noted that the NTR provisions would be repealed in the Finance Acts and be provided through regulations under the parent laws.

This meant repealing provisions relating to imposition of fees and levies to companies incorporation and registration, registration of titles and mortgages, passports, visas, and work permits, drivers permits, motor vehicle registration and licensing, and maritime vessels licenses, licenses for the extractive sector, trade-in cattle, trade-in hides, and skins, various services rendered by the police including permits and licenses for acquisition and dealership in guns and occupational safety and health.

Under the Uganda Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the government sought to amend the URA Act, Cap. 196, to empower the Minister to amend the First and Second Schedules by statutory instrument; to provide for the power of the Board to appoint officers at the level of an assistant commissioner or higher.

The current provision requires that in order to recruit managers and above the board should constitute itself into a recruitment panel and do the recruitment in person. The Board cannot delegate that responsibility which somehow sucks the board into the operational management of the organization which should be a responsibility of the technical team.

The committee had recommended that to cure this problem, the functions of the board be streamlined.

Butambala County MP, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, and MPs Nabukeera Hanifa and Masaba Karim contested the status of the Commissioner-General on the Board. They argued that the commissioner can’t be a member of a board that supervises him or her.

"This compromises corporate governance. lt raises the risk of advancing personal interests and influencing the decisions of the Board," read part of the minority report.

The MPs also contested the proposed amendment to empower the Commissioner-General to oversee the recruitment of officers from the level of manager and below saying that this raises the risk of entrenching a patronage system and creation of a 'super' Commissioner-General. The minority report says that Commissioner-General can use his or her powers to cause or influence the exit of officers that are deemed to be unfavorable hence contributing to the creation of uncertainty of tenure within the Authority.

Musasizi said that the government had decided to withdraw the two to allow more study.

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This left several MPs protesting and questioning why the Ministry took too long to make a decision.

Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Budadiri West MP wondered why the Bills were being withdrawn at a time when the committee has already considered them and reports awaiting presentation.

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The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among said that the Bills were for the government and it has decided to withdraw them.

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Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP questioned why the Minister had not given notice regarding the withdrawal of the Bills as per the parliament rules of procedure.

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Jane Avur Pacuto, the Finance Committee Vice Chairperson also condemned the withdrawal of the Bill after her committee had spent time considering it and writing the report.

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