URA CG John Musinguzi Rujoki

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which is mandated to collect taxes in Uganda has realised it must educate and sensitise Ugandans on the importance of taxes to the country’s development, a move the tax body thinks will boost revenue collections in the years ahead.

Recently the Ministry of Finance ousted Shs 48.1 trillion as budget for the financial year 2022/2023 where Shs 25.6 trillion will be revenue from taxes and non-tax revenue sourced internally.

This means that URA should strategize towards making a 53 percent contribution of the resources towards the national budget.

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For the public to appreciate their role towards the budget, experts on taxation, policy, and the economy convened at the Post Budget conference organised at Hotel Africana recently to deliberate on measures and policies that will drive Full monetization of Uganda’s economy through commercial Agriculture, Industrialization, market access and Digital Transformation.

Ramathan Ggoobi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Secretary to the Treasury, said the focus for government in the FY 2022/2023 is to use fiscal policies to stabilise the economy.

“The budget is structured to reduce the amount of money injected into the economy as we fight inflation and reduce prices. It is a painful process that will bear fruits in the long term,” Mr Ggoobi said.

The budget for next financial year is based on a redistributive principal that moves money to priority areas. The redistributive principal is the reason there are no new taxes, and will also reduce on external borrowing through reallocation of already available resources. Key national priorities include the Parish Development Model (PDM) which received an allocation of Shs 1.059 trillion, enhancement of security, the rule of law and fighting corruption; sustaining economic recovery; promotion of agro-industrialisation, standards and market entry; and commercialisation of oil and gas. In addition, efforts will also look into enhancement of transport, energy and ICT infrastructure; human capital development, science, innovation and knowledge transfer; and public sector effectiveness and efficiency.

The PSST also urged URA to increase domestic revenue mobilisation without constraining businesses. He noted that the idea of budget restructuring will ensure that all Ugandans pay taxes so that businesses thrive without shouldering a large tax burden.

URA Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi noted that there’s potential to raise more revenue from existing measures as long as more people are brought onto the taxpayer register.

“Enlarging the tax register and tax base is our focus. This FY, the tax register grew by over 800,000 taxpayers moving from 1.7m to over 2.4 million taxpayers. However, out of 45m Ugandans, seven million are estimated to be engaged in economic activities,” said Musinguzi.

Going forward, URA will enhance tax education, taxpayer services and communication to improve service delivery and foster partnerships with stakeholders for collaborative information exchange.

These efforts build onto the previous reforms that have enhanced delightful revenue service such as instant TIN issuance, business formalisation, improved contact centre, WhatsApp for enhanced client services, and a mobile tax office.

Data management, analytics and automations such as NII cargo scanners and the Electronic Single Window will guide decision making in tax administration and reduce dumping. This is in addition to DTS, and EFRIS solutions aimed at improving business efficiencies.

“Our ultimate aspiration is economic independence. No nation can attain true sovereignty without collecting enough revenue locally. We have collected over Shs 20 trillion out of great cooperation from taxpayers and we can achieve the target in next 10 days. As we close the financial year, I urge all taxpayers to remain resilient,” advised Musinguzi. Taxpayers were also urged to embrace Voluntary Disclosure and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the next few days because the revised tax law allows URA to recover all taxes with relevant penalties and interests.