Kampala- Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has said lack of accountability for the taxes that Ugandans pay has begun having an impact on the voluntary tax compliance because tax paying public does not know what their taxes do.
While presiding over the closing ceremony of the Tax Appreciation Week last Friday, Mr Simon Kagugube, the URA board chairman, noted that the tax authority is beginning to face a challenge of voluntary tax compliance.
He said this is because the public does not know what their tax is doing yet there are still no efficient ways of collecting the taxes which government badly need to maintain its operations.

“Government ministries, departments and agencies need to show people what taxes do so that they appreciate the value of paying taxes when they see how taxes are used to develop the country,” he said.
He cited the services exhibited by government agencies such as National Medical Stores, Mulago Hospital, ministry of Lands and the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces at the exhibition as initiatives other agencies should undertake to promote a voluntary tax payment culture to develop the country.

While opening the event on Wednesday last week, Finance minister Matia Kasaija lauded URA for the event which brings together government departments’ ministries and agencies together to show what government does.

“In the history of Uganda, this is the first time that government is coming out to show the public what it does and I pray that all government agencies could come together to sponsor this even and make it bigger to avoid wastage in government,” he said.
He said if each ministry, department and agency contributed money towards the annual exhibition, the financial implication would be so minimal and yet with a high impact like it is happening now when government is budgeting for national conferences and workshops.

“We realised that people were making a lot of money from these workshops and conferences. Why for instance would you hire vehicles and yet you have your own departmental vehicles to transport delegates? That is the kind of wastage we are talking about in government,” he said.
The two-day event, which started on Wednesday ended on Friday with the tax awards where Kinyara Sugar Works emerged as the tax payer of the year. During the exhibition, the government agencies which participated, showed the public the services they offer because of the taxes that they get from the public.

URA Commissioner General Doris Akol, the said this year’s event, which attracted government agencies showed that some Ugandans do not know that there services they are entitled to by virtue of paying taxes because government is not communicating with the citizens.

“We are here to account to the public what their money does. People have been flocking the Mulago hospital tent, national medical stores and verifying their land titles,” she said, explaining that these are services which government offers to the citizens because they pay for them but they are now aware.

sotage@ug.nationmedia.com