• Mon. May 23rd, 2022

“They Call Me Minister of Borrowing” says Minister Kasaija

UGANDA, Entebbe | Real Muloodi News | Finance Minister Hon Matia Kasaija, has called upon the public to voluntarily start paying their taxes.

He declares there there is no way the government can run the activities of the country without money. However, because Uganda’s tax base is still so small, government has been forces to borrow both internally and externally to finance the national budget.

He therefore implores the public to do their duty for their country and willingly pay the taxes they owe, to save Uganda from further borrowing.

According to the Auditor General’s Report in December 2020, Public Debt stood at USh65 trillion, while the tax to GDP ratio stagnated at 13%.

Since then, the government’s tax collection body, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has  registered revenue shortfalls month over month, compounding Uganda’s debt situation.

In the latest Ministry of Finance monthly report on the performance of the economy, URA yet again fell short of revenue targets for month of November 2021, registering a Revenue Shortfall of USh52.18 billion.

In the USh44 trillion budget for FY21/22, the Uganda Revenue Authority is expected to collect USh22 trillion, with the rest coming from both internal and external borrowing.

“I am not proud to be a borrower and these days in Parliament and Cabinet, they call me Minister of Borrowing. It’s not interesting because every week or two I am forced to go to Cabinet or Parliament to seek permission to borrow,” Minister Kasaija said to a section of taxpayers at the Annual Taxpayers Awards Ceremony held on December 10th at the URA head offices in Nakawa, Kampala.

However, Hon Kasaija emphasised the point that for as long as so few Ugandans join the tax bracket and begin to contribute their fair share, Uganda’s debt burden will not change.

In his speech, Hon Kasaija said that through taxes, government is able to build roads, hospitals, schools, security and finance on its own budget.

“The lower that (Tax to GDP) rate is, the less you will have a balanced budget because the revenue coming from taxes are not sufficient to help you to finance all the budget; therefore, I have to borrow to finance those projects,” he said.

“If we can raise our rate to 20%, the situation will be slightly different. In business if you borrow, you are in serious trouble because if you fail to pay, the business will be taken away. Do you want me to borrow and fail to pay and people start taking our assets?” he asked.

On that point, the minister also took the opportunity to clarify the recent rumors that the Entebbe airport was to be taken by the Chinese Exim Bank.

“That was a pure lie, somebody is maligning us even this morning I was reading the contract but there is no story like that. We are paying all our obligations, so those who had been worried that the Entebbe Airport will be taken on auction by Chinese Exim Bank I rest your fear,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, John Rujoki Musinguzi, the URA Commissioner General, announced plans of expanding the tax register to 5 million taxpayers by the FY2024/25, an steep increase from the current 1.8 million they have today.

“Here we have rolled out simple registration as key, and we will ensure that this process is made simpler. Voluntary compliance aimed at lessening the burden of the tax payers we have been committed ourselves to be efficient, transparent and accountable in all operations,” he said.

I applaud the compliant taxpayers who continue to make a contribution to the socioeconomic transformation of our Country. All of us have a duty to pay taxes and it’s a noble thing to do,” added Minister Kasaija.

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