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Gov’t withdraws bill seeking to provide relief to COVID-19 donors

State Minister for Finance and Planning David Bahati

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Government has withdrawn the Income Tax (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2020, which sought to provide for the deduction of an equal amount of money to the donations by tax payers to the COVID19 National Task Force on Covid-19 while filing their tax returns.

The move followed varied views by legislators on the bill. Many legislators argued that the donation of money, food stuff, vehicles and other items were made voluntarily and unconditionally by individuals and companies.  

While some of the legislators say at some point, Uganda National Bureaus of Standards (UNBS) declared some of the food donation unfit for human consumption. 

Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman Member of parliament, said people have previously donated generously towards government programs. She wondered why the government chose to only exempt taxes for those who donated towards Covid-19 and leave out others. 

She said that it was not African for people to be rewarded for their will to donate and that she wasn’t convinced by the proposal. The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga also questioned whether people donated with the intentions of getting tax relief from government.

Bahati explained that the law already provides for donations to charitable organizations but that there is no specific law providing for donations to government. 

Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Budadiri West MP opposed Bahati’s explanation, saying that the donations to government were voluntary and that there is no way parliament can reward the companies and individuals for their actions.

Elijah Okupa, the Kasilo County MP also questioned whether the government had stopped receiving donations for COVID-19 for it to limit the proposed exemption to only between April 1st and December 31st, 2020. 

Amidst a strong protest from legislators, Bahati conceded and withdrew the Bill, saying that government will return to parliament at a later stage.

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