UGANDA, Mbarara | Real Muloodi News | In January of this year, the Mbarara City Authority commenced property valuations throughout the city, targeting properties to be taxed in the next five years, beginning next financial year.
The comprehensive GIS enabled property valuation exercise was carried out by Knight Frank Uganda, with the support of USAID, as part of the Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development (DRM4D) project.
Mbarara City’s revenue collection projections for the financial year 2021/2022 was targeted at 4.7 Billion Shillings. However, by the end of the second quarter, only 1.3 Billion Shillings was realised.
Evaluation of property rates is supposed to occur every after five years, however Mbarara’s was last done in 2015 when it was still a municipality. The hope is that after the current valuation exercise, tax revenues will increase since many new property developments have taken place since Mbarara attained city status.
The additional revenue generated from the resulting property rates (property tax) will increase the resource envelope for Mbarara City to finance service delivery in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, hygiene, sanitation and other important public services.
To coincide with the revenue mobilisation exercise, Real Muloodi News Network has embarked on a campaign to educate and advocate for the rights of property taxpayers to quality public services while stressing fairness, equity, reciprocity, and accountability from the City Authority in the collection and administration of property rates.
Our main objective is to advocate for services and fair tax for property owners, by increasing transparency related to revenue mobilisation and how revenues are spent in the local community.
The campaign is also designed to give a voice to property owners regarding the public services they expect from their local city leaders in return for the property taxes they contribute to the City’s budget.
In Mbarara, targeted consultations with property owners began in April, with consultative surveys of local property owner associations, prominent property owners, local government officials and administrators.
Consultations began with LC1 chairpersons in various villages throughout Mbarara City to identify the challenges faced both in property revenue management and access to or utilisation of services.
The LC1 chairpersons also helped to gather feedback from key stakeholders in the local real estate sector.
Initially, some LC1 chairpersons were apprehensive about sharing the identities of local property owners for the fear that they would be targeted for tax. However, their fears were alleviated and they warmed to the idea of the taxpayer involvement in service delivery decisions.
Abdu, a property owner in Mandela Village, said that there is high inequality, insecurity, broken sewage pipes, poor drainage channels and a lack of markets available in his local area.
William, a local property owner in Nyakaizi Village, complained that the area has bad roads and about the delay in repairing them. He added there was little accountability for government services which should be offered in the area.
Henry of Nsiikye 1 Village noted a need for better sensitisation and communication from the local government.
The top 5 concerns of the 226 Mbarara City property owners surveyed so far include bad roads (38%), a lack of sensitisation about the tax collection process or about local services available (25%), limited electricity (16%) limited access to health services (16%) and limited access to clean water (15%).
A number property owners referred to the taxpayer consultation effort as a waste of time since they feel government never addresses their concerns.
Facilitating the project in Mbarara City as the Community Liaison Officer is Mr Samuel Tayebwa Rwakinanga, who currently works as the Head of Revenue for the city.
Rwakinanga acknowledges the poor attitude towards the administration of property rates, citing inadequate staff numbers to be able keep property owners updated in an effective client relationship management model.
Therefore, Rwakinanga stresses the importance of this taxpayer consultation initiative to help close the communication gap between taxpayers and city administrators when it comes to the tax collection process and administration of service delivery.
“All property owners and residents deserve to be involved in service delivery decisions and should be able to advocate for increased spending, particularly with regard to spending on health, education and agriculture,” says Rwakinanga.
A major civic engagement event between Mbarara City property owners and city administrators is scheduled to take place this Monday, 23rd May, 2022 at Acacia Hotel from 9 am to 2 pm to discuss property tax and service delivery.
Further feedback gathered from the event will be collated into a detailed report to inform the Mbarara City Authority about gaps and opportunities in revenue generation and management of property tax, social fiscal compacts, and advocacy for increased spending.
Mbarara City residents who cannot make the event can take the survey and have their say on-line, https://realmuloodi.co.ug/property-rates-survey/
For more information, Mbarara City residents are encouraged to visit their local LC1 office.
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