As Ugandans agonize over high commodity prices, the chief tax collector has on the other hand, told Ugandans to bear with him since the country cannot grow without taxes. A lot of Ugandans blame the increased commodity prices, more so on fuel, on high import taxes which the traders inevitably pass on to the final consumer of goods and services in order to escape the burden themselves.
Addressing the country on Sunday in regard to the increased commodity prices, the Head of State, Gen Yoweri Museveni dampened spirits when he rejected distress calls to waive taxes on imports and exports. The president told Ugandans to either continue going to the market or abandon it altogether. He as well as counseled Ugandans to handle money with extra care.
Responding to the president, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) boss, John Musinguzi stated how the Head of State was spot-on. “We need taxes to move the country forward. There is no way we can do away as a country without taxes and continue to provide social services at the same time,” Musinguzi argues.
What Musinguzi states is but expected from a man tasked with the job of collecting taxes to the tune set by his boss. After all, the boss himself is saying the same thing. So he is left with no choice, but to parrot what the boss himself is saying. Said and done, what Musinguzi is saying doesn’t mean that the taxes aren’t burdensome to the wananchi, but that it is a necessary burden for the economy to keep afloat.
The country’s financial year is quickly coming to a close. The government is supposed to table and read a new budget for the country come June 2022. No one knows for sure if the regime isn’t going to hike taxes again since that is the only way through which, since it doesn’t carry out any business, naturally expects to earn funds for developing the country as well as meeting its bills.
Museveni by no mistake of his own, sold off government businesses and properties to investors at the urging of the IMF and the World Bank. Yet the president cannot be held totally blameless yet himself to follow the IMF and the World Bank just as a sheep would follow the slaughterer to the butchery house.
Fortunately, Museveni has since realized his own mistake by regretting allowing the IMF and World to give him reckless orders which saw him selling off the critical sectors of the economy such as the national bank. The IMF and the World Bank have been debatably arguing about how the governments, particularly ours in Africa, cannot do any meaningful business since, given a chance, its technocrats and staff wouldn’t waste any opportunity that presents itself, to steal much of the funds for themselves.
But critics say the two international institutions use this merely as a cover to land businesses in Africa for its people and companies. Whilst Musinguzi is right to assert that taxes are a necessary burden, one does well to remind the chief tax collector about how much of the money he collects from Ugandans actually ends up being burned on the government, parliament, local government which are unnecessarily big and inefficient yet much of the balance is stolen. Much the same, Musinguzi must be heard and seen by his boss doing his job lest he loses it. This is why he must keep urging us to pay taxes even under stressful financial times in order to keep his own job of collecting taxes.
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