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Parliament Defers Debate on Proposal to Write off UGX 499Bn Tax Arrears

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The Finance Ministry tabled the Bill before parliament in March this year seeking to amend the Tax Procedures Code Act, 2014 to write off all tax arrears by government as at 30th June 2019. Government also sought to empower the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority to compound offenses and provide a list of returns filed with her office.
01 May 2019 07:07
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah steering the plenary session.

Audio 5

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah deferred debate on the Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Tuesday afternoon. Through the bill, government is seeking approval from parliament to write off tax arrears amounting to Shillings 499 billion.    

The Finance Ministry tabled the Bill before parliament in March this year seeking to amend the Tax Procedures Code Act, 2014 to write off all tax arrears by government as at 30th June 2019.  Government also sought to empower the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority to compound offenses and provide a list of returns filed with her office.  

  In its report to parliament, the Finance Committee Chaired by Henry Musasizi recommended that parliament approves the proposed amendment by government. The Committee noted that the tax arrears arose out of Government’s commitment to pay taxes (customs duties and domestic taxes) on behalf of entities deemed to be of strategic importance to the country and NGOs that had contractual obligations with Government.   

Musasizi explained that in most donor projects, the tax obligations rests on Government.

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David Bahati, the State Minister in-charge of Planning appealed to parliament to approve the amendments to allow them to write-off the tax arrears.

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    The Erute South MP, Jonathan Odur demanded tasked the finance Ministry to avail parliament that list of companies, which attracted the taxes that government seeks to write off to allow for meaningful debate on the matter.  

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The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah asked the minister whether the list of the companies was available and whether or not it could read to parliament in vain. As a result, the Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba requested that parliament halts debate on the matter until the list is provided.

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Bahati informed parliament that the list is available, adding that he would provide it in due course. Oulanyah ruled that Bahati avails the list to the legislators before they can debate the matter from an informed point on Thursday.

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The list, which URN saw last week includes, companies that are benefiting from tax holidays. They include among others Steel and Tube Industries Ltd, which has accumulated tax arrears worth Shillings 20.4 billion, Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Ltd Shillings 57.5 billion, Oil Palm Uganda Limited Shillings 41 billion and Shillings 134.7 billion, Southern Range Nyanza Ltd Shillings 86.8 billion, Fine Spinners Uganda Ltd Shillings 2.5 billion and Bugisu Cooperatives Union Shillings 279.1 million.   Those under counterpart funding include Mulago Women Hospital Project undertaken by Arab Contractors Uganda Limited Shillings 28.3billion, Mulago Renovation Project by Roko Construction Limited Shillings 10.8 billion, Construction of One Stop Border Post Malaba and Busia by Cementers Limited Shillings 9.2 billion, road maintenance contract by Nippon Parts (U) Ltd Shillings 2.7 billion and rehabilitation of community roads by Azu Properties Limited Shillings 2.1 billion among others.    

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