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 Minister Kasaija fails to call off traders’ protest over EFRIS

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

City traders have vowed to continue their strike despite meeting the minister of Finance and other government officials who promised to look into their concerns.

The Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, on Monday met the traders under their various associations and promised to study their grievances regarding taxation and policies that have led to the ongoing strike, which has paralyzed businesses in Kampala and some towns.

Kasaija in a statement on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, said his ministry will within the next two weeks, study and consult on the matter and communicate the ministry’s position taking into account the findings from the study and relevant consultations.

“It was agreed that traders shall immediately resume normal business as the Government concludes internal consultations and further engagement with the leadership of the Traders. The consultations shall be concluded within two weeks,” said Kasaija in a statement.

“URA shall continue to implement the EFRIS,” the minister said but the emphasis shall be placed on sensitization and handholding of taxpayers to appreciate the EFRIS and also ensuring that it is demystified among all taxpayers.

URA has been directed to establish an office in Kikuubo business hub that is solely dedicated to providing EFRIS support services to all traders and other taxpayers.

“[URA shall] exercise more sensitivity in the enforcement of EFRIS and shall accordingly exercise restraint with regard to the issuance and enforcement of penalties for the non-compliance to EFRIS, so as to give all taxpayers time to appreciate the EFRIS system,” explained Kasaija directing the URA Commissioner General URA to submit the list of traders currently having outstanding EFRIS penalties for possible waiver in accordance with the law.

Despite the minister’s statement, KACITA has asked the city traders to continue with the closure of shops until President Museveni meets them over the matter.

Businesses in Kampala last week and on Monday closed shop following a rallying call by KACITA Uganda and the Federation of Uganda Traders’ Association (FUTA) to protest over the implementation of EFRIS is assessing VAT, which traders say is pushing them out of business.

Tuesday marked the second day of the traders’ protest against enforcing the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS) by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

Regarding the anti-competition trade practices by manufacturers, Kasaija said the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives (MTIC) is finalizing the regulations to implement the Competition Law that was recently accented to by President Museveni.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives has since directed Kampala Capital City Authority, and all Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks to ensure compliance with the provisions of the TradeLicensing Act which prohibits the licensing of non-citizens as hawkers.

In today’s plenary, Erute South MP, Jona Odur has asked Speaker Anitah Among to prevail over the government and demand Uganda Revenue Authority to table before Parliament the regulations the Authority relied on, to make regulations on the Electronic Fiscal Receipting Solution (EFRIS) in order to allow Parliament scrutinise the provisions in the regulations and understand why the EFRIS System has been rejected by the traders.

“The contestation over the EFRIS is as a result of Section 73(a) of the Tax Procedures Code that we made here in that section, we delegated part of our responsibility to legislate to the Commissioner General of URA and he made regulations, which regulations are now causing problems for the traders. I wanted to ask that the Ministry of Trade be asked to lay before this Parliament those regulations and you can direct one of our committees to interrogate because the regulations are made under delegated authority of this Parliament,” Odur said.

He added, “If there is a problem with it (EFRIS), then we have to interrogate and see because it has penalties and so many other aspects and, in the past, we had suggested that all statutory instruments that are made for and on behalf of Parliament should be brought here, even when it isn’t mandatory so that we can ascertain whether it is the actual intention of the law that we made. This would help us to intervene in a timely manner to help the traders in the meantime, even this House if it pleases you may be able to make some advice to Government on that EFRIS.”

In response, Among called for constructive dialogue between the traders and the government in order to end the impasse.

Among noted, “We need to have a constructive dialogue to resolve the matter. We cannot have shops closed for all these days. The Minister will give a statement today. We had asked the Committees of Trade and Finance to interrogate that matter, they have not finished, so we will wait, but in the meantime as we wait for the Committee, what do we do?”

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