One event. Five locations.
Last week on Monday 18th June 2018, Uganda Revenue Authority held a National Annual Budget Breakfast that attracted thousands gathered at different locations in the country.
This year’s budget annual post budget breakfast themed #KnowYourBudget18 occurred in five towns namely Masaka, Jinja, Kampala, Arua and Fort Portal.
There, thousands of people “hungry” for information about the 2018/19 amendments, opportunities therein and others over the past five years, gathered.
Presiding in Jinja, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said local manufacturers and traders ought to be supported.
“Let us help regularise what they are doing. Let us support people in small scale businesses to exist lawfully…….,” she stated.
Apart from enabling proprietors derive a livelihood, she argued, small scale traders offered essential services to communities.
Citing fuel traders in rural areas, Kadaga said motorists now do not have to travel long distances in search of fuel.
Looking at her as she spoke, were over 1,400, who sat in a gigantic marquee at the Source of The Nile Hotel, one of the five venues of post budget meetings.
Presenting the opportunities in the 2018/19 budget, Assistant Commissioner Enforcement, Agnes Nabwire disclosed that taxes (import duties) on motor boat ambulances, maternity kits, racing motor bikes and rally cars plus tourist vans were scrapped.
And to stimulate local production, some items had their taxes raised from 25% to 60%. Among them are toilet paper, toothbrushes, packed water, exercise books, soap, blankets and chewing gum.
URA Commissioner Tax Investigations Department, Patrick Mukiibi urged participants to formalise their businesses by, among others, registration.
The Vice President, Edward Ssekandi echoed Kadaga’s comments on local manufacturers and investors whilst addressing participants in Masaka.
“We must not frustrate the investors because we are also beneficiaries of the infrastructural development and business,” he stated.
Following concerns about a proposed industrial park in Masaka, Ssekandi reassured participants that the project had not been abandoned.
In Kampala, Government announced a three-pronged approach to as it moves to maintain a stable macro-economic environment.
“First, the central bank will continue with inflation targeting, which for month, has been maintained at nine percent. As government, we shall continue encouraging the Bank of Uganda to maintain the economic fundamentals through a robust monetary policy,” the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury stated.
Government, Patrick Ocailap disclosed, would continuously recapitalise Uganda Development Bank and support its recapitalisation from foreign sources. This would enable the financial institution to offer credit to entrepreneurs below the commercial rate.
Additionally, Government would capitalise the micro support finance centre to facilitate lending to saving and credit cooperative societies and other microfinance bodies at lower interest rates.
“Once the monopoly of commercial banks is broken, there should be no reason we continue to have high rates in this economy. Our aim is to have a reasonable lending rate so that we can have more people access credit for enterprise growth,” Ocailap explained.
Organised for the fourth time, the events kicked off with opening speeches, presentations on tax policies (customs and domestic taxes).
Participants thereafter had the opportunity to respond to the presentations, asked questions an offered feedback.
Among the participants were Ministers, Members of Parliament, Resident District Commissioners and the clergy to name but a few. At each of the five venues, hundreds of people attended from beginning to end.
Monday (June 18, 2018) was the fourth time that URA organised #KnowYourBudget meetings. And it was the second time that people in the countryside benefitted from the meetings.
A brainchild of URA, they were launched to sensitise the public on tax policies of an impending financial year. Each year the fora are spiced to ensure that the public walk away with knowledge on how to boost their businesses.
The gist this year were the opportunities for business growth and investment the Government has created over the past five years.