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MPs regret decision of imposing taxes on diapers

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Members Parliament have expressed regrets over their decision to impose a tax on diapers, which they initially claimed were being used to promote homosexuality in Uganda and are now admitting that the tax has instead made diapers expensive for the elderly and people with disabilities who rely on diapers in order to protect their dignity in society.

In June 2023, Parliament passed into law the Value Added Tax Amendment Bill 2023, approving an 18% VAT levy on all diapers, despite the proposal from Government limiting this tax to only baby diapers that were described as a luxury, as opposed to adult diapers whose exemption was sought on medical grounds.

Although some MPs opposed the tax saying it would push women into spending more time in unproductive labour, or washing nappies, other MPs argued that adult diapers are mostly used by homosexuals, so imposing a tax on adult diapers would reduce homosexuality in Uganda. A decision was reached to end the tax exemption on all diapers, so 1st July, 2023, the cost of diapers went higher due to the 18% tax levy.

Flavia Kabahenda (Kyegegwa DWR) has noted, “On the World Disability Day in Mbarara, I realized that the people with hydrocephalus and spina bifida are living on pampers and these pampers have become expensive from the time we slapped a tax on pampers. I think we made a mistake as Parliament to impose taxes on diapers because we thought we would help parents to reduce use of diapers in order not to spoil their children, but we have discovered that there are elderly people who need to use diapers and there are also people with disability that rely on diapers in order to protect their dignity in society. So, I want to implore my fellow MPs to allow that we rescind the tax on pampers.”

Prosper Muhumuza, Commissioner in Charge of Disabilities at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, 12.4% Ugandans are living with disabilities and of these, over two million are children living with Hydrocephalus and Spina bifida and families of these children spend 39% of their income on caring for these children.

Rose Obigah (Terego DWR) asked MPs not to go back and forth with the diapers tax, arguing that the tax was imposed because diapers are a luxury & there was need to reduce their excessive use because diapers had started to impact on fertility of men in Uganda.

“People from Karamoja and my village (Terego District), they perform well, their fertility lasts longer but you see these men brought up in good homes, they have challenges with sperm count. It was on that ground that we wanted to reduce this excessive use of pampers. Diapers are a luxury, we would prefer to use nappies,” said Obigah.

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