Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called for a referendum for Ugandans to decide if MPs should pay income tax on their allowances or not.
According to their umbrella body, the civil society budget advocacy group(CSBAG), a total of 3216 petition letters have been collected, asking President Yoweri Museveni to ensure MPs pay income tax on their allowances.
Briefing the press on Wednesday, Julius Mukunda the Coordinator of CSBAG said the petition letters were collected after the campaign was carried out in the Acholi sub-region, Kigezi, Bunyoro regions and many more are still being collected. A national campaign was launched last week where up to 500 citizens marched in the streets of Kampala.
“It’s prudent and democratic that citizens who voted the MPs have a say on the matter as such we call for a referendum on this matter,” Mukunda stated.
Mukunda argued that should the President assent to the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, it would not only be a blow to tax mobilization efforts, but would be “politically and morally incorrect”.
“However, should our dear President feel the pressure to assent to the Income Tax Bill, we advise that since democracy is priceless, a referendum on the matter is the right way to let the citizens decide whether MPs should pay taxes on their allowances,” Mukunda stated.
Fiona Okiriza of Institute of Social and Economic rights said MPs should go back to their constituencies and consult on this matter.
Fredrick Kawooya the Policy and Campaign Manager at Action Aid Uganda said that West Nile, Karamoja, Busoga and the central regions will be holding their campaigns this week to put pressure on lawmakers to abandon the controversial clause.
He asked the Ministry of Finance to push for its signing to allow URA collect the anticipated revenue from the revenue measures proposed under this bill for the period FY 2016/17.
“We fear silence on the whereabouts of the Bill may attract a legal battle if it’s not gazetted and this will cost tax payer’s money,”said Kawooya.