Kampala- Kampala city property owners have protested the recent Income Tax Amendment Bill which Parliament passed last week, saying that they will not reduce, but increase rental charges despite scrapping of payment rent in dollars.
The law, which is yet to be assented to by the President, seeks to among others, bar landlords from charging rent in dollars.
Although the law excited legislators and city traders, some landlords Daily Monitor spoke to yesterday insisted that they will maintain high rental charges pegged to the monthly value of the dollar.
“Government’s ban on charging rent in dollars has no big effect to me because I will maintain the charges at the rate of the dollars which I used to charge, if my tenant was paying $1,000 per month, I will maintain or increase the charge but in Shillings. We must all appreciate the fact that the economy is doing badly and it’s affecting all players, when I increase rent or charge it in dollars, it means that I have been pressed,” he said.
Mr Ssentamu explained that it was unfair for Parliament to pass the Income Tax Amendment Bill without consulting city landlords, arguing that their rights were violated.
“We are planning to meet the minister and express our dissatisfaction over this law because it’s meant to see us make losses on our buildings yet their maintenance in terms of renovation is very costly,” he said.
This law comes at a time when city traders and landlords have been bickering over the dollarisation of rent; something the former claimed has pushed many traders out of the city because they can’t afford the high dollar fees. Currently, a dollar goes for Shs3,626.
Mr Isa Ssebulime, another landlord noted that it’s unfair for government to impose such a law on owners of buildings yet Uganda is a market free economy.
“There is no way Parliament could make such a resolution because we were never involved. However, this won’t help a lot because as owners of buildings, we also have our own problems which need money. We will be tempted to hike rent so as to meet our financial obligations,” he said.
Ms Rosemary Nansanga, a trader who deals in women’s wear on Nabukeera Plaza expressed happiness of the Income Tax Amendment Bill but asked government to investigate and come up with policies where landlords keep on increasing rental fees.
“Payment of rent in dollars has been a fear of many traders in the city but since government has banned it, we have a reason to smile as traders. However, majority of city landlords are still increasing rent which is also another threat to us and I call upon government to really help us on this problem as well,” she said.
On increasing charges
The chairperson Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Co-operations, JohnBosco Lubyayi (Mawokota South), said that Parliament is yet to pronounce itself on the ever increasing rent in city arcades.
“Mps on the trade committee submitted a report on the issues affecting traders in the city and it’s yet to be discussed. We believe the issue of high rental charges will be resolved as well. Our traders should remain calm as we do our best,” he said.
Hiked rental charges have previously seen traders and landlords clash, with a trader shot dead at Arua Park as traders protested in April.