Today in Parliament | 9th April 2024

Today in Parliament | 9th April 2024

Greetings from the Africa Leadership Institute and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 22nd Sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the Speaker Rt. Hon. Anitah Among. In her communication, the Speaker urged Members to engage in extensive consultations in order to establish a robust tax framework, as Committees commence the process of scrutinizing tax bills for the FY 2024/2025. “We need to consult all stakeholders so that we make laws and bring taxes that favour the country”, she said. Speaker Anitah Among paid tribute to the late Rtd. Col. Obiale Nelson, the father of Hon. Lillian Paparu Obiale, the Arua District Woman MP. The Speaker also directed the Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry, and that of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to resolve the woes of Kampala City Traders and report back to Parliament on Tuesday, 16 April 2024. “This is not only happening in Kampala, this must be interrogated and we must come to a solution. The Committee of Trade and Finance must do a public hearing with these traders-URA must come out, there should be certainty in collection of these taxes collection”, she said.

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, Hon. Nsereko Muhammad (MP, Kampala Central, Kampala, INDP) was concerned about the introduction of the Electronic Fiscal Receipting & Invoicing Solution(EFRIS),which led to demonstrations among traders. He emphasized that the traders have not received adequate education regarding the utilization of the new tax system. However, Speaker Anitah Among emphasized that EFRIS should be viewed as a system for tax collection and administration, rather than a tax itself. She stressed the importance of government efforts to educate and raise awareness among the public regarding this new tax system in order to enhance compliance and acceptance. On the other hand, Hon. Malende Shamim (DWR, Kampala, NUP) voiced her worries regarding the excessive deployment of security personnel in the downtown area, citing that it is deterring potential customers. The LOP, Rt. Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel Besekezi who also doubles as the (MP, Nakawa West Division) on his part urged URA to engage with traders regarding the implementation of EFRIS. “One of the cardinal principles of taxation is that you have to make it easy for people to pay taxes because once it is not easy then people are going to evade”, he said. He added “The traders need to have smartphones and internet for them to be able to interact with this EFRIS system. That is why there are run-ins with URA”.

The State Minister for FPED, Hon. Musasizi Henry Ariganyira who also doubles as the (MP, Rubanda East County, Rubanda District, NRM) told parliament that URA has conducted visits to more than 20,000 traders in the Kampala Central Business District since the launch of EFRIS in 2019. The Minister also added that “There are three options for traders to consider in the use of EFRIS. You can have the EFRIS machine installed in the shop, or an App installed on the phone or computer”.

 Parliament also received more than 22 new Bills that aim to streamline government agencies. These Bills have been referred to various committees for review and consideration. The Bills that have been tabled include the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Uganda Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre Act (Repeal) Bill, 2024; the Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Youth Council (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Planning Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Physical Planning (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Tier 4 Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Forestry and Tree Planning (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Uganda National Roads Authority Act (Repeal) Bill, 2024; the Registration of Persons (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Library (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Council for Older Persons (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Women Council (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Assets of Departed Asians (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the Public Enterprise Reform and Divestiture (Amendment) Bill, 2024; the National Population Council Act (Repeal) Bill, 2024; the Uganda Export Promotion Board Act (Repeal) Bill, 2024; the Uganda Trypanosomiasis Control Council Act (Repeal) Bill, 2024; the National Curriculum Development Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2024; and the Uganda Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The State Minister for FPED, Hon. Musasizi Henry Ariganyira also presented the motion for a resolution of Parliament to determine the post-retirement benefits of the Auditor General under Section 5 (2) of the National Audit Act, 2008.

Reacting to the motion Hon. Kankunda Amos Kibwika (MP, Rwampara County, Rwampara District, NRM) who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Committee stated that the current Auditor General, who has faithfully served for more than two decades, is eligible for retirement. “However, his post-retirement benefits have not been delineated in the law”, he said. Hon. Nandala Mafabi Nathan James (MP,Budadiri West county, Sironko, FDC) on his part suggested that a service award be presented to the retiring Auditor General, John Muwanga, in recognition of his outstanding and devoted service to the nation. Hon. Naluyima Betty Ethel (DWR, Wakiso District, NUP) suggested that the Speaker forms a sub-committee to assess the service award for the Auditor General, who is approaching retirement. On the same note, Hon. Akol Anthony (MP, Kilak North County, Amuru District, FDC) asked the House to agree on a clear formula to determine the retirement benefits of the Auditor General. The motion was later adopted by the House with amendments.

Finally Hon. Ojara Mapenduzi, Chairperson of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government, delivered the committee’s report on the Ministerial Policy Statements and Budget Estimates for FY 2024/2025 for 5 votes. The Committee  recommended that the Ministry of Public Service lifts the ban on recruitment to enable entities carry out planned recruitment and address the problem of understaffing which is greatly affecting service delivery. Concerning the Public Service Commission , the Committee  recommended that Shs4.3bn be provided in the next Budget to enable the Commission to upgrade and roll out the E-recruitment process. The Committee observed that the contradictions in the legal framework surrounding local government finances have affected service delivery for several years now. As a result, the committee recommended that MoFPED withdraws the directive to Local Gov’ts to remit local revenues collected to the Consolidated Fund in line with Section 29(1) and (3) of the Public Finance Management Act. This report was later adopted by the House with amendments.

The Speaker afterward adjourned the House to Thursday, 11 April 2024 at 10.00 am This Parliamentary Information and Liaison Service is brought to you by the Africa Leadership Institute.

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