The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has organised the Open Minds Forum 2017 where top officials from government and the private sector discussed ways of how the Agency can develop a medium strategy that enhances domestic taxes and also boosts investments.
Addressing participants at the event held today at the Kampala Serena Hotel under the theme: ‘Developing a Medium Term Revenue Strategy for Uganda. Understanding your role in domestic Revenue Mobilisation’ , URA Commissioner General Doris Akol, said that when developed, the strategy would require Ugandans to support it by engendering a positive taxpaying culture.
“A revenue strategy will require a changed mindset across the country and taxpaying culture which is positive,” Akol said.
She added that the strategy was necessary as the country works to grow into a middle income status by 2020 and prosperous nation by 2040 .
The State Finance Minister, David Bahati, who graced the function as chief guest commended URA for plans to develop the strategy and reiterated government support.
He said Uganda had come a long way in the process of revenue collection. “We (Uganda) are on a journey and this journey where we are today is not where we were. We have made progress,” he said.
The Executive Director of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Dr Joseph Muvawala, while speaking at the same function urged URA to be cautious as they formulate the strategy saying: “We need to double check the tax policies that we want to implement before passing them.”
Dr Muvawala recognised the impact Uganda’s informal sector can play in revenue generation and advised that they be incentivized to formalise. “The informal sector is our biggest employer; formalise them through incentives,” he said.
Speaking at the Forum, the Executive Secretary of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Logan Wort, commended URA for consulting with stakeholders in an effort to develop the strategy.
He also lauded the Agency for the growth of the revenue administration over the past 20 years but called on URA to automate its systems for effective revevenue mobilisation in the future.
Wort, who is in Uganda for the ATAF conference, used the event to castigate African governments for giving tax incentives to investors who the capacity to pay the taxes. “Africa is facing the problem of wasteful tax incentives given to the so called investors,” he warned.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Representative to Uganda, Ms Clara Mira said that her Agency would support URA in developing the strategy she added would boost the collection of taxes.
The last financial year saw URA make a shortfall of Shs457.51 billion, out of the 13.177 trillion it hard targeted to collect. For the financial year 2017/18 It intends to collect Shs15.06 trillion.