Parliament met at 2.05 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Deputy Speaker, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE CHAIR
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I welcome you to this sitting. As you may already be aware, the hon. Charles Gutomoi Angiro, Member of Parliament for Erute County North was involved in an accident last night. He was evacuated and is now admitted at Mulago Hospital. I saw him this morning; he is in a steady condition. He broke a right leg but he is able to speak and can tell the story of the scenario. Therefore, let us pray for him and also those of you who can create time, please go and visit him at Mulago Hospital where he is admitted.
Honourable members, you will recall that yesterday, I informed you that the State of the Nation Address and the official opening of the Third Session of the 10thParliament is due to take place on Wednesday, 6 June 2018 at Serena Conference Centre beginning at 1.00.p.m. You are reminded to attend this important event.
Further, as advised by the protocol authorities, Members should not come with any electronic equipment like iPadsand laptops to the venue of the sitting of Parliament. Please refer to the leaflet inserted in your invitation cards with details of prohibited items.
Furthermore, honourable members you are informed that the invitation cards allow access to specific individuals and are not transferable. You are urged to avoid transferring these cards to any other persons to avoid any embarrassment it may cause that person whom you have transferred these matters to.
The Minister of Health has requested to brief the House on the state of the health of hon. Charles Gutomoi. When she comes, she will be given time to do that.
I will also alter the Order Paper to accommodate a statement by the honourable member for Budadiri West, hon. Nandala-Mafabi. There was a statement made here by hon. Vicent Woboya, the Member for Budadiri East and the Speaker requested hon. Nandala-Mafabi to respond to it. Therefore, I will allow a moment for him to make that statement.
Thirdly, I will cause an alteration on the Order Paper to accommodate a short correction motion arising from a matter that we passed here. You recall that we had a debate on the debts that are owed to our traders who transacted with the Government of South Sudan. In that motion, an error was committed when we were adding the 23 names; for the 13 of them, the currency was different. They were supposed to be in Sudanese Pounds but we passed them as if they were in United States dollars. And you know, what the implication would be if that was to be so. Of course the traders would be very delighted if the currencies were as passed by Parliament. However, that is not according to the contract that they have with the Government of South Sudan and we would create a problem.
Therefore, honourable minister, I will allow you to make a short motion for us to correct the record so that the motion – the first 10 were okay; the next 10 from the 23 were in US dollars but the 13 were in Sudanese Pounds; we passed them as United States dollars. Instead of 1.5 million Sudanese Pounds we passed it as $ 1.5 million. That is a huge difference. Therefore, we need to correct that to avoid any other difficulties.
The reason we need to do this now, honourable members, is to allow the Budget Committee to see if part of these figures can be accommodated this financial year so that we begin the process of providing relief to the traders who had supplied the Government of South Sudan. I will, therefore, call for an alteration of the Order Paper to allow this motion to be presented and adopted; a correction motion does not require a debate.
Also to accommodate a personal statement from the Leader of the Opposition; those are the alterations. Today, I have four alterations of the Order Paper in respect of hon. Nandala-Mafabi, the honourable Leader of the Opposition, the correction motion from the finance minister and the statement from the Minister of Health on the condition of hon. Charles Angiro Gutomoi Abacacon. Thank you.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Winfred Kiiza): Thank you so much, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to rise on a matter of national importance. The matter over which I am rising is in regard to the persistent conflicts in Apaa. As a Parliament, we are charged with a heavy duty of guiding how national policies, through legislation, should be made to guide the management of society.
On many occasions, in this country, we have dealt with situations, left them halfway done but we leave to regret the consequences. I am speaking with an experience from what happened in Kasese, when a section of Ugandans was moved from a specific portion of land, another group of people brought; it has given us headache. People have killed themselves to the extent that Government went ahead to also continue in the killing exercise.
What is happening in Apaa – and I am sad that I am making this statement while the First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, is not in the House although he is fully represented by the hon. Bahati. He is fully represented –(Interjections)– okay, I am glad to learn that he is fully represented. This matter has, from time to time, come to the Floor of the House. Every time we talk about or discuss this matter, he will want to put a cover on it.
I am speaking without any attachment to the people either in Apaa or on the other side. I am speaking as a leader in this country who has seen blood shed from my area because of the mismatch and mismanagement of conflict by Government. I am speaking as a Ugandan who does not want to see any more bloodshed in that part of the country. The matter of Apaa has continuously come to this House. I vividly recall that when it turned into bloodshed and torching houses, this House guided.
In April 2017, hon. Anthony Akol raised it again as a matter of national importance. We deliberated for a long time and directives were made. In June the same year, the Minister of Defence came here and gave a directive but the issues never ended.
Leaders went on the ground to talk about it but Gen. Moses Ali came up finger pointing at different leaders, saying they were causing trouble, inciting the public and in charge of the unrest.
As a leader, I realise that something serious is hidden in the alteration and degazettement of this area. I was in Gulu and I heard that the people in Apaa are being relocated forcefully to create space for our sisters and brothers from South Sudan; that is what I heard.
It is unfortunate that we can evict people settled on Ugandan land to create space for others. And that is why I wish Gen. Moses Ali was here to hear this because fingers were pointing at him. He is in-charge of the South Sudanese who want to occupy that land and that the death of the many people in Apaa is being caused by the need to create space for Sudanese.
I am an African and I would want our sisters and brothers from one part of Africa to get such space but must it be at the expense of people who are already settled in an area? If there is any land elsewhere to relocate them, let it be created for them; we have so many areas to degazette but not necessarily an area where people are already settled.
As we speak, over 900 households have been displaced and to make matters worse people are complaining – they have sent their requests for relief to the Office of the Prime Minister where Gen. Moses Ali sits but they have never got any rescue.
I would imagine that some people would be proud to see their very own at the centre of supply but they are receiving nothing. Over 15 people have died and the last one I am told was an old woman of 84 years. People are losing property in this mess but the leaders are quiet.
Mr Speaker, before we broke off for Easter, you made a pronouncement that the President had committed to go and talk to the people there. I was happy that the President went and talked to the people of Amuru so that no evictions should take place.
However, everybody now longer now listens to the head of State; evictions are continuing in Apaa. So, who is in charge of what to the extent that the Head of State can give a directive but it is disrespected or that the head of State can make a Speaker a liar?Go and tell Parliament that I am going to Apaa after Easter to ensure land conflicts are settled, but he doesn’t go there?
The President goes to Amuru and says that no evictions should take place but they are happening. Whom should we trust and trust not? We want an explanation as to why people should continuously be killed yet senior leaders are quiet.
A matter in Apaa affects all of us. When the Kasese killings happened, they called them tribal only to realise that some individuals were behind them. People started calling the Apaa killings tribal conflicts until we realised that some big people want to create space for others. We want to know what exactly is happening in Apaa.
If the people who are being evicted are not human beings, let them tell us so that we know that the super calibre of other Ugandans – or maybe those other citizens are more human than the ones who are currently being displaced from Apaa land –(Interruption)
MR AKOL:Thank you, Leader of the Opposition for giving way. It is good that a voice is coming from another region of the country. I have spoken, several times, on the Floor of Parliament about this problem but no single step has been taken either by the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and lastly the President gave directives but nothing is taking place yet people are suffering.
You will recall that recently, I have not been in Parliament because I feel the pain. I feel like almost resigning because when a leader in a country tries all possible ways to save his people but nothing is done – when the President went to Amuru, I asked him to tell me the person in charge of security of this country. If the President can give a directive and nothing happens – Of late, I got some information, which I do not know whether it is true; I was reliably informed that there was a meeting, which you were supposed to chair, but Gen. Moses Ali denied you that opportunity because you are an Acholi and that you are partisan. We have said several times that this matter is not tribalistic but if it is true, it means we are not aware that it has become a tribal issue.
Secondly, I was reliably informed by the Prime Minister one time that about three times Cabinet tried to talk about the issue of Apaa but that whenever it came up, Gen. Moses Ali got irritated and shouted to the extent that the President would be forced to call off the Cabinet meeting.
The truth should come out. What is happening? Is it an agreement that was signed before? What is it? I am not happy about it –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you still giving information?
MR AKOL: I get disorganised. I am sorry! Let me stop here. Thank you.
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Mr Speaker, it is always said that “He who feels it knows it.” I can understand what my colleague is going through. I rose on this matter because I have been going through the same. A mistake is committed by Government, it leads to the killing of many people but we continue to assume that life will be normal –(Interruption)
MR KAMUSIIME:Thank you very much, my honourable colleague and Leader of the Opposition for giving me way. The information I would like to give is in relation to Presidential directives. In my area, we have the same issue, where the President, in July 2016, directed that people should not be evicted but as I speak now, they have been squeezed to the nut, a majority are frustrated and stranded somewhere at the verge of dying of hunger because they are being unlawfully evicted by our own people as I presented here.
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Thank you so much, honourable colleague. As I conclude, Mr Speaker, we discussed the matter of the nodding syndrome but the same people who are nursing the wounds of that disease are the ones that are being harassed and evicted.
We are told that people are getting injured as they move from one part of the area to the other running for safety. I mentioned it here, while we discussed the issue of the nodding syndrome that some Ugandans will think that we feel less about them.
And one thing that hurts me is that when they talk about those in power, they mention the entire west but I have always told them not to talk about the “West” and if they do so, they should say, “Minus Kasese” because we are not part of those who are dehumanising others –(Interjections)– yes, it is in western Uganda but not part of those who are dehumanising others.I am saying this because when the people from northern Uganda cry, they say, “You people from the west have mistreated us,” I begin crying. This country belongs to all of us. The hon. Bahati from the west is here. My brother, you will fail to get water when you go to northern Uganda because those people feel that we in leadership are against them.
It is not about the western or northern Uganda but rather about human beings and their safety. This should be a matter about rules of procedure; a matter of concern for all Ugandans that when one part of the body gets an injury, the whole body should feel it. Likewise, when one part of the country gets disturbed, it should be a matter for all of us. I pity leaders who are in positions of influence; who would want their people evicted at the cost of bringing in to the country other people to feel comfortable in their areas. They might not be comfortable, if they are coming in as refugees – Uganda is known for hosting refugees and we have so many from Sudan whom we have not chased. I would pray that our African brothers and sisters, who are coming in as refugees, should not cause problems to the sitting Ugandans or else, the courtesy we have given to them, we can say, has been over outlived.
Therefore, I rose on a matter of national importance because this matter touches us as a country, as a nation and as leaders that when our people are dying out of our negligence and possibly our petty issues that we want to solve using our offices, I feel sad.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, this matter has been in the House and I do not know whether hon. Bahati has anything to say about it. The matter has been here too many times but the problem continues.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is true that the matter has been here and we have discussed it both here and in Cabinet but there is no evidence to the information – the Leader of the Opposition has said that every time it comes up, Gen. Moses Ali shouts and it is postponed. However, we have agreed as Government – the issue is now being led by His Excellency, the President who has committed to intervene in the matter and get it resolved and so it is now being handled at that level.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: When do we get a briefing on this matter? The challenge is that as we speak, there are problems. On Sunday, the entire Acholi community, under the leadership of the Ker Kwaro Acholi, David Onen Acan, had a meeting and I think they issued a communiqué about this. Therefore, these issues are ongoing and it does not make good when speeches of this nature are made but no action is being seen on the ground to see how to help the people there. That is the problem. How do we move with this matter?
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, we can brief the House next week, if we are sitting.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Could we have it tomorrow? We have the budget issues tomorrow; we are going on recess next week.
MR BAHATI:It would require us to first consult with His Excellency, the President and then come to the House to brief members with concrete information.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can you just give us a short briefing tomorrow about whatever has happened? It would help us.
MR BAHATI: Yes, we can do that.
MR JONATHAN ODUR (UPC, Erute County South, Lira): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am rising on a matter of urgent national importance under Rule 53 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament, about the plight of a young man called Ogwang David from Orem village, Abunga Parish in Barr Sub-county, Erute South in Lira District. This boy is a victim of very cruel and inhumane treatment meted on him by three persons, two of whom are of Indian origin for whom the boy worked.
About two weeks ago, these two Indians and a man from Lango forcefully stuffed about half a kilogram of powdered red pepper, the one we commonly call piripiri, into his anus –(Interjections)– that is the truth. He was then dismissed and being a young boy, he went and locked himself inside for about a week. He could not come outside but labouring under the pain of such a torturous act.
The neighbours came to his rescue a week later after they broke the door and realised he was too weak. He was rushed to a nearby health facility but he had already developed irritations in the stomach. He could neither walk nor sit.
What is more painful is the fact that when the matter came to the attention of the police, they forced the boy to sign an agreement for Shs 2 million as compensation out of which, Shs 1.5 million was paid to him. The policeman manning the police post took Shs 500,000 as his fees and the boy was chased with the Shs 1 million, which could not enable him access treatment.
It took my intervention and that of hon. Joy Ongom to follow up this matter. We later realised there had been a conspiracy to protect the perpetrators of this cruel and inhuman act. The police surgeon who examined the boy reported that he had seen only a minor scratch on his left hand thereby making the case weak. When the file went to the office of the DPP, it was not sanctioned on the ground that a minor scratch could not sustain a charge. We managed to take the boy for another medical examination, which confirmed – we physically saw that the boy was labouring. Today, we were told that the Indians are going to be deported as a punishment without prosecuting them as provided by our laws.
My prayers are:
1.I would like to draw to the attention of the House the plight of this boy and many other Ugandans that are being mistreated by our friends who have come from wherever to invest in the country;
2.I also wish to bring to the attention of the ministry the weaknesses of our district labour offices that are inadequately supported and facilitated to execute their work of inspecting the premises where Ugandans are working from; and
3.Lastly, I would like to call upon the Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure that these Indians called Gurupesh Singh and the other called Subasha, are apprehended and produced before the courts of law so that they stand trial other than having them deported before –(Interruption)
MS JOY ATIM:Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank my colleague for giving way. We are the people’s representatives so each and every time we get to know the problems our people are facing, it is incumbent upon us to report to this House and where possible the responsible ministers and Government take action.
Mr Speaker, whatever he has said is the truth of the matter. We interfaced with this boy.I remember going to the office of the Regional Police Commander and asked him if at all he got in contact with this boy and interrogated him and he said he got hearsay but said the boy was not harassed and that his rights had not been violated.
I interacted with the Resident District Commissioner who told me that the report from the labour officer implicated these Indians. First, the boy is under age and secondly, they poured some chemicals and red pepper into his anus, which is not okay.
Mr Speaker, this is not the first time this thing is happening. About two or three years back in some factory an Indian urinated on a worker and when the case was brought, the Indian said he was spraying cockroaches. We do not know since when cockroaches started being sprayed with urine and if cockroaches lived in a human being; this is not acceptable.
Just after one week of this happening, another worker was beaten at his work place – we are yet to get his name. Mr Speaker, we are calling upon this House, especially the Office of the Minister of Trade – we like investors and alone we cannot develop our district and our country but we need cooperation and mutual respect and treatment because we are human beings. The fact that we are black does not mean that we deserve such inhuman treatment.
Last year, at least the people of Lira wanted to demonstrate against these so-called investors. However, as leaders of Lango sub region, we intervened and invited the Minister of Trade who went and talked to the business community of Lango sub region.
Anyhow, we want this case– especially, we want a report from the Minister for Trade and one from the Minister of Internal Affairs on how far this case is being managed and if anything, we want this House to prevail over these matters so that we are not treated inhumanly. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati):Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, we will take up the matter with the Minister of Internal Affairs and report to the House tomorrow, if we are given space on the Order Paper.
MR JOHNSON MUYANJA (NRM, Mukono County South, Mukono):Thank you, Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues. I rise on a matter of urgent national concern and it is about a government-aided day secondary schools.
Mr Speaker, this is the third day since schools opened but the traditional government-aided day secondary schools have already started chasing away – I was in Jinja on Monday and we could see the whole of Jinja town flooded with students from Jinja Senior Secondary School. The parents approached me because they know me and asked what we are doing as Members of Parliament. These are Government schools where the taxpayers’ money goes and where Government pays all the teachers, puts all the facilities but when it comes to charges, they are charging high fees than even some private schools.
Mr Speaker, I remember last year, we talked about the same situation but the honourable minister could not come out clearly to tell us how best this problem can be solved.
Mr Speaker and colleagues, even the traditional government-aided day secondary schools have totally turned into boarding schools. These were schools, which used to help the sons and daughters of the town dwellers but now, they cannot help any.
My prayer is that this House forces the Minister of Education and Sports to come out clearly with a fees structure showing how much a day scholar is paying in a government-aided secondary school.
Two, those schools are charging high fees and it is my prayer that there should be a special audit on how they spend that money because the Government is carrying the blame yet it is individuals benefitting. I beg to submit.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati):Mr Speaker, last week the House requested the Minister of Education and Sports to come and brief it on school feeding. We will add it together with this matter so that when she is coming to the House, she briefs it on those two aspects of the sector.
MS VERONICA NANYONDO (DP, Woman Representative, Bukomansimbi):Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a matter of national importance. On Saturday morning, we rose up to a surprise fire outbreak at Makerere University, Mary Stuart Hall, in which I was a resident. A day after that, another fire outbreak at Biko Hostel at Bugolobi, occurred.
Mr Speaker, we have had such fires gutting academic institutions like the Kichwamba case, Buddo – leave alone the markets – but we have never received any reports concerning those fires.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, whenever we get such fires, the police have been turning up with trucks with little or no water at all like it was the case at Bugolobi – Biko Hostel. Is it possible for us to address the issue of emergency water hydrants in the country? That is my prayer, Mr Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati):Mr Speaker, I must also declare my interest that I was at Lumumba Hall and Mary Stuart was next to us. (Laughter)
Anyhow, we heard about the incidence and as she said the Police tried to help but the Minister of Internal Affairs should come to the House to update it on this particular issue. However, the Police Fire Department is fully equipped, I do not believe that they lacked any water but the minister will update the House. Otherwise, they are fully equipped to handle these issues when they are reported on time.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT TO CORRECT AN ERROR ON THE CURRENCY FOR USE IN RESPECT TO COMPENSATION OF UGANDA TRADERS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati):Mr Speaker, I beg to move a motion for a resolution of Parliament to correct an error on the currency for use in respect to compensation of Uganda traders in Southern Sudan.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded? Okay, it is seconded by Dokolo South, Buvuma Island, Amuria District, Buhaguzi and Mukono South. Would you like to speak to your motion?
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, the motion reads:
“NOTING that on 3 April 2018, Parliament passed a resolution to approve the bilateral agreement signed between the Government of Uganda and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, concerning payment of monies owed to 23 Ugandan-South Sudan traders in addition to the 10 that were part of the agreement by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan;
FURTHER NOTING that the 13 out of the 23 companies quoted their dues in South Sudan Pounds (SSP), but Parliament in error, approved all the dues in United States Dollars;
COGNISANT OF THE FACT, that the error is substantial since the value of the South Sudanese Pound is not the same as that of the United States Dollar;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by this House that:
The payment to the following 13 companies be reflected properly in the South Sudanese Pounds as follows:
1.Trust South Centre Ltd – 1,559,788;
2.Speedways Service Company Ltd – 208,480;
3.Speedways Service CompanyLtdagain – 455,350;
4.Chant Agencies (Supply of food stuff) – 4,936,600;
5.JB Trading Agency Ltd– 2,078,000;
6.Madut Chan Company Ltd – 3,934,440;
7.M/s Wang Logistics Company Ltd– 2,411,818;
8.M/s Edsa Supply Ltd– 6,652,592;
9.Menelco Stores (Maiwat Company Ltd) – 1,100,000;
13.Atmos Uganda Ltd – 1,743,379, all in South Sudanese Pounds.”
Mr Speaker, I beg to move.
THE SPEAKER:Thank you. Honourable members, the question for your debate is for a motion for a resolution of Parliament to correct an error on the currency for use in respect of compensation of the Ugandan traders in South Sudan. The traders are numbered; they are 13.
However, can I put the question so that we finish with this matter because it is a correction of the record; it does not attract a debate? I put the question to the motion – please honourable members, this matter was done except the currency was wrong. The currency was in United States dollars which was read by hon. Juliet Kyinyamatama here and we adopted it; it was in error. Now, the actual correction is that these particular companies’ invoices are in Sudanese Pounds and that is the correction we are making on the record of Parliament so that they can proceed.
MR HASSANFUNGAROO (FDC, OBONGI COUNTY, MOYO): Mr Speaker, just for the record since we are correcting. We are correcting these ones now and others will be corrected later.
There is a complaint about companies that made supply but have never been included among the ones to be paid. When are we going to deal with those ones? Thank you.
THE SPEAKER: Honourable members, those were not part of this debate then because the debate was – when they brought the agreement, it had only 10 companies. They went with the record and said there were 23 other companies that had already been verified by both governments and whose names must be included. In the process of including those names, for 13 of them, the currencies were not what they had asked for.
The agreement framework provides for further verifications of all the other companies that have supplied to the Government of South Sudan. The reason is that for the Government of Uganda to take up these debts, the Government of South Sudan must agree to the credit as by their own verification systems, which are in the agreement. Once they have been verified by Government of Uganda and that of South Sudan, they will be paid.
MR FUNGAROO:Okay, thank you. If the process of verification still goes on, even after paying this one, Mr Speaker, I can assure you there are very many people from West Nile, for example – they came up to my office and I even have the list here. I only never knew about this, I would have brought it here. Therefore, we need to take cognisant of the fact that people who supplied goods and services and have never been paid, are still outside there. The process of selection and verification is questionable. Anyhow, we can first deal with these but just know that the records should not escape these facts. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I put the question to the motion for a resolution of Parliament to correct an error on the currency for use in respect of compensation of Uganda traders in South Sudan in respect of these 13 companies.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MINISTERIAL STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF HEALTH ON THE ACCIDENT THAT INVOLVED HON. ABACACON GUTOMOI
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HEALTH (PRIMARY HEALTH CARE) (Dr Joyce Moriku): Mr Speaker, I stand here to give a report on this Floor of Parliament on an accident that involved our colleague, hon. Abacacon Gutomoi, early this morning.
Hon. Abacacon Gutomoi, the Member of Parliament for Erute North, Lira District was involved early this morning in an accident at around 2.30 a.m. The honourable member was driving alone from Lira to Kampala when his own vehicle registration No. UAV 089G rammed into a big truck.
This morning, he narrated this to us by himself and according to him, the truck had full lights on and that the driver did not give him way to pass. As a result, his vehicle went head-on collision with the truck. This happened about 100 metres after he had just crossed Karuma Bridge. He was unable to come out of the vehicle until the door of the vehicle was cut to allow him be pulled out.
He sustained a fracture on the right leg, the tibia and fibula, as well as injuries at the left side of his chest. Following that accident, he was picked up by a Good Samaritan who was on his way to Nebbi. He was first taken to Kiryandongo Hospital where he was admitted, the limbs were mobilised and he was given first aid. Thereafter, an ambulance for Kiryandongo Hospital brought him to Mulago National Referral Hospital by 9.04 a.m. this morning.
At Mulago Hospital, our colleague was received and immediately assessed by the team from Mulago Hospital, headed by the director initiated a treatment plan accordingly. Personally, I was there with hon. Santa Alum, the Woman MP for Oyam District. The Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital and his team were also there.
Colleagues, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who is with us here, immediately visited hon. Gutomoi in person. We would like to sincerely thank the Speaker who offered emotional support, care and love to the patient.(Applause)
We also appreciate hon. Santa Alum who was handy to receive her colleague as she did last time with the others who were involved in the accident that claimed 23 lives. (Applause)
We extend our appreciation to all the health care staff at Kiryandongo and Mulago hospitals.
Special appreciation goes to the Good Samaritan who picked and brought hon. Gutomoi to Kiryandongo Hospital. There is also a Samaritan who escorted him to Mulago Hospital.
Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, my humble prayer is that Parliament continues to support the health sector as it has always done and where possible, to increase the budget of the sector so that we have more drugs and supplies especially in those highway facilities because accidents are becoming a continuous challenge.
I also pray that colleagues always travel with somebody whenever duty calls. Where possible, use trusted drivers. I thank you, Mr Speaker, especially for your timely intervention.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, this was a brief on that situation and I think the honourable member who had a matter on this issue should go ahead.
MR ASTON KAJARA (NRM, Mwenge County South, Kyenjojo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the State Minister of Health for briefing us on the accident which involved hon. Gutomoi.
Only yesterday, we were discussing the fate of the 23 lives that were lost in an accident that involved Gaaga Bus Service on the same road.
Hon. Eric Musana, a member of this House was also involved in an accident on Mityana-Mubende Road and the results were disastrous. The causes of these accidents are many. I, however, would like to build on one; the state of our road surfaces and road construction is generally poor.
When, for example, you talk about the road between Mubende and Mityana, the surface is so bad that it needs replacement and reconstruction as soon as possible. However, when we looked into the current budget and the budget we are going to pass, there is no provision for repair of that road. Since the finance minister is here, I can tell him that that road needs urgent attention.
The other issue occurs when companies are constructing roads. We have a 50-kilometre road under construction between Kyenjojo and Fort Portal. Part of it has been completed and it is expected that by the end of this year, the rest of it will be completed.
However, the completed portion has some sections where when you are driving, the vehicle is undulating and yet this is a brand new road. So you wonder, if a brand new road can have such undulating surfaces, what will happen when at some point it has been used?
The other challenge on that road is poor visibility. There are some portions on which when you drive at night, there is poor visibility and a number of accidents have already occurred because of that. Motorists have called upon us to call upon the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to ensure that these roads that are constructed are done in a proper way to avoid accidents such as this one in which hon. Gutomoi was involved.
My prayer is that the works minister and UNRA should closely monitor roads under construction and in particular this 50-kilometre road between Kyenjojo and Fort Portal.
We have heard that this company that is building this road is a Chinese company and it has been given another contract to build a road between Fort Portal and Hoima. We have to be careful.
The minister should bring a report on the performance of this company so that we protect the lives of the people of Uganda and also the money that we invest in the construction of these roads. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues. I would also like to join colleagues is sending sympathies to hon. Gutomoi who was involved in an accident.
As you recall, we proposed a tax measure here to put Shs 100 on fuel which we will be discussing anytime now, which will raise an additional Shs 192 billion to be ring fenced for the repair of roads. That is part of the plan that we have in terms of the repair of roads.
On the quality of the contractors, it is now the Minister of Works and Transport who will come to the House and make a presentation. I will take the message.
THE EXCISE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
MS OGWAL: I stand on a point of procedure. We have only a day to complete the process of the budget and when I look around, it appears our colleagues from the Government side are not in the House –(Interjections)– excuse me; I was once a whip so I know how to count, not by number but by head. (Laughter)
Is it procedurally right for us to proceed as if the House is properly constituted? Is it procedurally right for the National Resistance Movement Party to deprive us the quorum we need to pass critical and important decisions?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the Member for Dokolo District says she has the advantage of having been a whip so she understands these things. I have not been a whip before so I do not understand some of these things. (Laughter)
All I know is that I have Members on both sides and today, they are not very many on both sides. I see there are Members to my right but they are few. I also see Members to my left and they are equally few. Let us proceed with what we can do. (Applause)
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled, “The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018” be read the second time.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded? It is seconded by the members for Jinja, Kioga and Kinkizi County West. Would you like to speak to your motion?
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, the object of this Bill is to amend the Excise Duty Act, 2014 to raise the point of accounting on telecommunications services; to introduce interest for unpaid duty and limit the interest payable to the amount of unpaid principal tax; to enhance Excise Duty in respect of certain excisable goods; to amend Excise Duty on telecommunications services, and; to introduce a duty on cooking oil and on motorcycles at first registration. I beg to move.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Honourable members, the motion that I propose for your debate is that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read the second time.
However, as you are aware, this Bill was referred to our committee. To start the debate, can the chairperson report on their findings on this Bill and then we can debate the principles?
THE VICE-CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (Ms Loy Katali): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development scrutinised the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and we are now ready to report.
Mr Speaker, I request that I go straight to the committee’s observations and recommendations.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Proceed.
MS KATALI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The committee observed that:
i)A person providing an excisable service becomes liable to pay Excise Duty on that service on the date of the provision of the service. This is meant to clarify when a person providing an excisable service becomes liable to pay Excise Duty, which is the date on which payment is made or the date on which the invoice is made, whichever is earlier.
This will ensure that when the performance of the service is completed or paid for or the invoice is issued, Excise Duty is due and payable irrespective of whether the service is used.
ii)An obligation is imposed on telecommunications service operators providing data for accessing Over the Top (OTT) services to account for and pay Excise Duty on access of Over the Top services.
Currently, voice and messaging traffic has migrated from conventional voice calls and messaging to voice over the internet and online messaging, through applications such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype referred to as Over the Top service. OTT services do not attract Excise Duty, unlike voice calls that attract VAT and Excise Duty. This is unfair and inequitable for consumers who buy airtime and use it to make voice calls compared to those who buy internet data and make voice calls. This is also intended to clarify who is liable to account for Excise Duty on Over the Top services.
iii)The Bill proposes to impose Excise Duty of one per cent on the value of mobile money transactions of receiving, payments and withdraws.
Use of mobile money is an efficiency gain and should be taxed. Money has migrated from the traditional payment systems like banks to the digital platforms. It is, therefore, important that taxes be levied on such platforms.
Using mobile money is a choice as there are other methods of payment which are already attracting taxes. This proposed tax will generate more revenue and broaden the tax base.
iv)The committee observed that Excise Duty on soft drinks is the highest in the region. This encourages smuggling of soft drinks from the neighbouring countries. Government committed to reduce Excise Duty on soft drinks from 13 to 10 per cent in financial year 2018/2019. However, this commitment has not been honoured. Excise Duty on soft drinks should be reduced gradually to avoid loss of revenue.
In the financial year 2018/2019, Excise Duty on soft drinks should be reduced to 12 per cent.
Mr Speaker, the committee recommends that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be passed into law, subject to the proposed amendments. I beg to report.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Honourable members, the debate starts now and – as you understand – the principles are known. These are revenue laws and the purpose for which they are proposed are exactly that – to raise revenue. Is there any debate on the principles of the Bill?
MR JOHN BAPTIST NAMBESHE (NRM, Manjiya County, Bududa): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the chairperson of the committee for the report. My take, as I weigh in, is on the proposed one per cent transaction value tax on mobile money.
The intention could be to broaden the tax base but it will exclude the majority of Ugandans from financial transactions. In the Bank of Uganda statistics for 2017, Uganda is second among the partner states of East Africa in financial inclusion and mobile money transactions have gained prominence among the low-income earners. Sixty per cent of our youth participate in mobile money transaction.
The current tax regime actually imposes 10 per cent excise duty on the telecoms, which in my view if it were increased beyond the current proposed 15 per cent to say 20 or 18 per cent, would not impact negatively on the majority of Ugandans who are in mobile money transactions.
Mr Speaker, on depositing, the charge will be one per cent transaction value tax. Sending money would also attract a one per cent levy and there would be a similar levy at the point of receiving. At all these stages, they have imposed a tax of one per cent.
You know that the majority of Ugandans – the low income earners – transfer almost less than Shs 45,000 on a daily basis. If you levy tax at every stage and if you say such money is migrating from the traditional payment system – the banks – for example, if it is a salary, you would have already paid Pay-As-You-Earn but as you deposit, they charge the one per cent and as it is sent, you pay one per cent and on receiving, you pay one per cent. You would even be taxing condolences. (Laughter)
Therefore, literally even the dead will be taxed in Uganda if we allow this proposed one per cent transaction value tax on mobile money transactions.
Mr Speaker, it would be better to tax the interest or increase tax on the interest of the float by the mobile money agents because on the Escrow Account, it is currently about Shs 800 billion. If that interest was taxed – which they have left and I do not know why the committee could not see this. This was a very severe omission. If this interest could be taxed, it would take care of whatever intentions the initiators of this tax are looking at.
Mr Speaker, you know very well that majority of the mobile money clients in Uganda, especially the low income earners, have been talking –(Member timed out.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, you should use two minutes to allow us to share the time properly. Can I have the member for Kumi and then the member for Lira Municipality?
MS MONICAH AMODING(NRM, Woman Representative, Kumi): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I rise to oppose the proposed tax of one per cent on mobile money transactions in Uganda mainly because I believe that this tax is going to affect the poor of the poorest and reduce financial inclusion, which we are seeking as a country, for those particular categories of people.
Mr Speaker, when mobile money transactions were introduced in Uganda, one of the key beneficiaries was the farmers who are at the lowest echelons of the society. In addition, statistics have indicated that the increase of the services of mobile money across the countryside brought on board farmers to a tune of about 53 per cent in the financial sector.
Mr Speaker, I bring evidence from my district to attest to the fact that this service is very important for farmers. There is a programme called HIFA. This is a programme through which farmers save.
I know of cooperatives which are doing savings through mobile money and many other services through which the poor access money from the financial sector. This includes the poor through the Social Assistance Grant for the Elderly (SAGE) Programme. I also know many other non-governmental programmes that the poor use to access money through mobile money transactions.
The argument of saying that mobile money transactions are benefitting friends and relatives because the transactions are merely sending money to friends and relatives is not very true. (Member timed out.)
MR JIMMY AKENA (UPC, Lira Municipality, Lira): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I equally do not support the one per cent tax on mobile money. However, I want to use my time on the proposed Excise Duty on motorcycles. I have not seen anything in the report concerning this proposal.
Mr Speaker, this is an area from which I feel Government is trying to look for money. It is going to hurt a sector of the economy that is showing some level of growth. I am involved in supporting many young people to acquire boda bodas. These boda bodasare at least giving some people financial stability. When we try to increase the taxes, yet I do not see the justification on those taxes, I am concerned.
On another note, in Uganda, we have taxes on motorcycles, including the ones for competition. This affects the Ugandan team in its international competitions. Uganda is going to compete in August in Zambia but these taxes on motorcycles put us on a very weak footing to compete against other nations.
I would like to hear from the minister or the committee the justification as to why we are putting an Excise Duty on motorcycles. I have imported several of them and we actually pay a lot of taxes at the start. Thank you, Mr Speaker –(Mr Lugoloobi rose_)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you a Member of the committee?
MR LUGOLOOBI:I am giving information.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, please.
MR LUGOLOOBI:Mr Speaker, I am giving information.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is nobody holding the Floor at the moment. You give it to somebody on the Floor.
MR LUGOLOOBI:I am giving it to the House.
MR JOSHUA ANYWARACH (Independent, Padyere County, Nebbi): Mr Speaker, I am grateful. We are debating the principle of the Bill and this Bill seeks to amend Excise Duty.
Mr Speaker, from the proposal, the principle is already defective. My understanding of taxation law is that what we call Excise Duty, its opposite is Import Duty. In other words, as soon as any good crosses the border, you impose Import Duty. The internal manufacture of any good in the country attracts Excise Duty. That is the very reason we call it a duty; it is not a levy on an individual. Technically, Excise Duty is just a duty, it is not a tax.
Mr Speaker, since Excise Duty is levied on a good as soon as it becomes existent in the country, then we cannot actually levy a tax on mobile money transactions. Even over the top transactions you are talking about, where anyone can choose to make a call on WhatsApp – in fact, by the time airtime came into existence, it had already attracted Excise Duty.
Mr Speaker, for heaven’s sake, anywhere in the world – if anything can be cheaper and spur economic development, it is communication.
I think in principle, we are discussing a tax, which is misplaced. I would like to request that we discuss a duty. Therefore, the Excise Duty should be that levy on the airtime when it came into existence – (Member timed out.)
HON. MEMBER:I donate my time. (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You did not have it. Wind up.
MR ANYWARACH:As I wind up, we should also look at the Excise Duty on motorcycles because it will collapse.
Mr Speaker, you taught me how to give motorcycles to these young people and I copied from your constituency. As soon as they make money – most of them are struggling to make ends meet and yet we also want them to pay taxes.
In addition to the above, when they go to fuel these motorcycles they pay taxes in order to spur economic development. I thought the honourable minister was coming here to say that we have reduced the registration fees on motorcycles. However, he is only adding more injuries to a healing wound. Therefore, the principle is defective. Thank you very much.
MS ANN MARIA NANKABIRWA (NRM, Woman Representative, Kyankwanzi): Thank you, Mr Speaker.I stand to support the committee report.
The world over, people have problems with the payment of tax and yet they need development. Before we pass the budget, we must pass tax Bills as an obligation of Parliament. The expenditure needs to balance with the revenue. We need to widen our tax base as Uganda. Tax sometimes is a gain –
I support the one per cent levy on mobile money. It is a service gain and I will not be intimidated by anyone. I think we need to pronounce ourselves and speak the truth. One per cent levy is a service gain. If I have to go for a burial and I have to put fuel worth Shs 200,000 into my car, I would just send the money. Therefore, I will not move and save time.
Mr Speaker, I remember in the Ninth Parliament, we needed to pass money for strengthening our backbone infrastructure for the internet. It is all money.
Today when we look at how burdened we are with the loans we pass here every day; when you look at the Treasury operations this financial year in the budget we are about to pass, it is Shs 9.7 trillion. How will it be serviced if we are now claiming that people are poor and therefore cannot pay tax?
In our tax regime, the rich will pay more and the poor will pay more. However, let us all have an obligation for feeling it in paying taxes as we demand the service.
Finally, good things are paid for. Quick service is paid for. Ugandans and all those standing against tax are using the services given by Government to be able to communicate the decampaigning of the tax. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. I have balanced the extensions, now two minutes flat. (Laughter)
MR COSMAS ELOTU (NRM, Dakabela County, Soroti): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I also stand in support of the report of the committee and therefore, their recommendations.
I have heard a lot of arguments from various speakers. However, the issue is who will then pay the tax? Where shall we raise money to support our budgets? You know, every other moment in this House, we are passing loans. Unless we realise that we need to get avenues where we shall raise taxes and be self-sufficient, we shall forever stay in the same quagmire.
Way back, we had other taxes like Graduated Tax, which at the end of it brought everybody on board, including the poor people back home. If I may say, a one percent levy on mobile money will not be detrimental across the board.
If you send Shs 1,000 and you pay one per cent, I think that is a fair contribution. If you sent Shs1 million and you pay one percent, it is also a fair contribution on the basis of your income. I stand with the report of the committee and strongly recommend that that tax be stayed in our budget. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. (Applause)
MS FLORENCE NAMAYANJA (DP,Bukoto County East, Masaka): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I stand to oppose the one per cent transaction tax on mobile money. Recently, we handled compensation by Rural Electrification Agency (REA) on wayleaves and the people who were assessed for their crops such as cassava and beans were compensated with very little money. We were handling the audit queries because money was being deposited on staff accounts to go and pay them.
The recommendation of the Auditor-General was that people should be paid directly through mobile money. If someone is to be paid Shs 30,000 for his or her beans – this is one of the poorest people. I think this tax has not been brought in good faith but to punish the poorest.
I oppose it and I call upon Members of Parliament to think about the poor people and about the transactions we make. By the time you send for example, Shs 20,000 to somebody, by the time it reaches, it will be much less the amount you sent. Therefore, let us rethink and maybe levy somewhere else and leave the mobile money transactions.
MR PATRICK NSAMBA (NRM, Kassanda County North, Mubende): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I think we should, as Parliament, not be moved with the desire simply to expand the tax base, without knowing which part of the population we are touching.
The honourable minister is aware that on the mobile money transaction, 61 per cent send the very little money, below Shs 45,000. That tells you that once you come up with this tax, it is not going to the rich. It is going to affect the poor.
Let us take an example of the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment where we are paying our people Shs 26,000 a month and you have to take Shs 2,600 plus other charges off them. We will not have helped those people.
It is very easy for a Member of Parliament to say Shs 1,000 is little money. However, for people who are earning less than a dollar a day in this country, Shs 1,000 is a lot of money. Therefore, let us simply not sit here and say this one per cent is little money when we are going to affect the majority of our population –(Interruption)
MR LUGOLOOBI:Mr Speaker, the tax we are talking about is one per cent. The honourable member is misinforming this House that one per cent of Shs 26,000 is Shs 2,600. Mathematically, that is Shs 260. Therefore, out of Shs 26,000, that old person you are talking about would only be paying Shs 260 only.
Remember, the money we are giving to this old person has to be derived from somewhere. Is the honourable member in order to mislead this House mathematically?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The honourable member has not declared which base he is using. (Laughter)
MR PATRICK NSAMBA: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your wise ruling. I would like to conclude by saying that any country whose fiscal policy does not deal with inequality and poverty reduction is destined for failure. (Applause)
Our fiscal policy should always mind the poor. It should always ensure that it is closing the gap between the rich and the poor. I will not support any tax that comes to inflict further pain on the poor. Thank you.
MS SANTA ALUM (UPC, Woman Representative, Oyam): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Bill proposes Excise Duty on motorcycles. I stand here to oppose, for the reason that most of these motorcycle riders are the youth. They pay a lot of money to the district local governments and even the sub county local governments. Taxing them will be like sending them away from their business.
Secondly, on the issue of one per cent on mobile money transaction; mobile money takes services closer to the people, more so the poor people. These poor people also pay taxes when they buy airtime. They also pay tax on the voice calls. When you now put taxes on mobile money, that means that you are taxing them very many times on the same product when they are using mobile phones –(Interjections)– I will give you later; first hold on.
Mr Speaker, in the villages, we do not have the banking services. Mobile money is the closest thing to banking our people in the rural areas have.
Now, when we say we are going to tax them, it will discourage them from using something closest to the bank. Then, where are we heading to? If we had banks in the rural areas, I would have no problem because they would have an alternative of joining the banking system.
Thirdly, Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the committee on the objective of taxing cooking oil. They have not put it very clearly. To me, I feel it would be better to tax soft drinks rather than cooking oil – (Member timed out.)
MS JUSTINE KHAINZA (NRM, Woman Representative, Bududa): Thank you, Mr Speaker. My discussion is on observation 4 of the committee where they proposed to reduce the Excise Duty on soft drinks from 13 to 12 percent.
The reason they gave is that we are losing Excise Duty because of smuggling at the border points.
My recommendation would be that we maintain the 13 per cent. If the problem is smuggling at the borders, why can’t we, as Government, enforce checking at the border points? Why do we allow these people to go through with smuggled products? Let us ensure URA does its work at the border points to check – It is because we may reduce it to 12 per cent but still, people will smuggle from across. So, it may not necessarily be the price.
So, in the spirit of Buy Uganda, Build Uganda, we need to ensure checking at the border points and also promote the standards of our products. Maybe our products could be more superior to those of the other countries. So, how are you going to support them if you do not strengthen the checking at the border points? Thank you.
MR ELIJAH OKUPA (FDC, Kasilo County, Serere): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to make a proposal to the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Instead of charging this tax on airtime and mobile money, why haven’t you thought of reintroducing licencing of vehicles? You can do it like the Ministry of Internal Affairs is handling the people who acquire firearms; if you buy a firearm, you pay Shs 5 million or Shs 10 million and every year, you must renew the licence and pay Shs 150,000. For the vehicles, however, you only pay once when you import the vehicle. I think the people who own vehicles are able to raise Shs 200,000 per year. Why have you never thought of that?
Secondly, this double standard cannot help us and that is why you see the people are even opposing. You have exempted the people who are supposed to pay taxes. You came here to exempt people who are supposed to pay Corporation Tax but now the local people who should be exempted are the ones you would like to tax.
Personally, I would have no problem with taxing everybody but the problem is discrimination. Everyone should pay taxes. I think this business of exempting companies in the name of attracting investors should be discouraged. That way, we will be able to raise a lot of revenue.
Also, can we put this money to a better use? It is because if Ugandans see that the money goes –
We have our ambulances. Mr Speaker, I do not know where the Government has gone because it is the Members of Parliament now providing ambulances throughout the country. What has happened to Government? We do not get money for ambulances –(Member timed out.)
MR DAVID ABALA (NRM, Ngora County, Ngora): Thank you so much, Mr Speaker. In the little commerce I learned in secondary school, there are basic principles of taxation: productivity, convenience, equity, ability and economy among others. I do not know whether these proposed taxes meet these basic principles.
Remember the poverty in Uganda is on the rise and Teso particularly is at 41 per cent. Now, Mr Speaker, if you use those scenarios, the people who are buying these motorcycles are actually poor people. I am worried we are going to force them out of this business. That means insecurity will increase because most of them are going to suffer because of these taxes we are talking about here.
In my view, exempting powerful people in this country from paying taxes is a problem. Let us dwell on those other levels. Targeting the poor youth in this country is a problem according to me.
Mr Speaker, the argument here says the people go for mobile money by choice. It is not by choice; it is circumstantial. It is the circumstance that forces the poor. For example, in Ngora, I do not have a bank. There is no bank in the entire district. So, where will my poor people go and bank the money? In Omoro District, where you come from, Mr Speaker, there is no bank.
That is why we are saying, Mr Speaker, we –(Member timed out.)
MS SILVIA AKELLO (NRM, Woman Representative, Otuke): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to get some clarification from the chairperson. Recently, I was in Dar es Salaam and I realised those people have introduced a system of revenue where you begin paying taxes when your business has reached a certain amount of money. However, the poor people who sell food on the road and earn Shs 10,000 to Shs 50,000 as profit are not taxed.
However, in our local markets, if you go with your small quantity of beans or millet, you get taxed. My question then is; from which country did you learn this kind of taxation where you even tax Shs 1,000 from a poor person without considering the base of his or her income? (Laughter)
Mr Speaker, as most people have alluded to, Otuke District is the poorest. At least some districts – you even saw from the report. We are the poorest district. As it is raining now, all the roads are cut off. The only service that we have is this mobile money to take a sick person to the hospital. Now, when you give a person Shs 10,000, they even tax Shs 1,000 out of it. So, are we double, triple or quadruple taxing?
How many times do you want to tax so that we know? It is because I have really failed to understand this type of taxing when you do not know how many times you are supposed to tax a person – (Member timed out.)
MR PENTAGON KAMUSIIME (NRM, Butemba County, Kyankwanzi): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. It is common knowledge that we need tax so that we can implement Government programmes or offer services. However, as a cattle keeper, I know which cow I should milk?
In this regard, Mr Speaker, I would like to address myself to two issues. The first one is on mobile money. The committee says they will pick some money as you send or receive mobile money. The committee report says that money has shifted from traditional banks to digital; so, we need to levy tax. In my district Kyankwanzi, there is no bank.
Now when they say money has shifted from banks to digital, let us put a tax, it means, “let us fail them.” They don’t have banks and they have gone to mobile money. Mobile money is a new thing here. As they start to exchange money here and there, they say, “Fail them.” What is this? –(Laughter)– In addition to this tax, there is more money that is taxed. If you withdraw Shs 100,000, they charge you about Shs 4,000. They are adding more taxes to cripple them completely.
Another issue on the boda bodas; in my district, apart from the Kampala-Hoima Road, there is no other clear form of vehicle transport inside there. I have been a medical practitioner since 2003; I am involved and I am a good midwife. I have seen mothers giving birth on the way and those who managed to come to health facilities were brought by boda boda. At this particular moment, a new Bajaj is about Shs 4.3 million. When you add something, it will go to Shs 5 million.
Look at the people buying – it means that apart from frustrating efforts of saving mothers who die on the way or who do not have an opportunity to reach the health centres, by increasing this tax, you are going to fail the boda bodas and definitely the whole system. Unemployment will rise and you will have spread doom to this country. We know that we need taxes but we can suggest other possible sustainable ways. (Applause)
MR ABRAHAM BYANDALA (NRM, Katikamu County North, Luweero): Thank you, Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues. Government does not have a money minting machine but generates money through taxes. At the end of the day, every service needs money. If we don’t pay taxes, we are reducing on the services to provide.
Therefore, I appeal to my colleagues that if we want to improve the services offered to our people, we must pay taxes. We must also broaden the number of people that pay taxes. Let us ensure that everybody gets involved in paying taxes.
Members have talked about boda boda cyclists; I want somebody to get out of this House and board a boda boda or a taxi from Clock Tower to Ggaba; the boda boda will charge higher than a taxi. Therefore, colleagues, this question that we are going to get them out of business is not true –(Interruption)
MR LUGOLOOBI:Mr Speaker, thank you for giving way. Previously, people have been paying this tax indirectly. Let us take the example of Otuke where there was no bank; what used to happen in order to transfer money from Otuke was that someone had to travel all the way and the implication of this was that this person boards a taxi, which consumes fuel.
What we are experiencing today, because of these new innovations in mobile money transfer, is that the number of people moving on the road consuming fuel has drastically reduced and that is affecting our tax base very seriously. Therefore, business is shifting from analogue to the digital platforms. As it shifts, the tax man should also equally shift. If we lag behind, this economy is going to collapse.
As we talk, the amount of money needed to service our loans is growing astronomically. Hon. Nankabirwa was talking about the money that we need to service our debts –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You rose on information.
MR LUGOLOOBI: Yes, I am still giving information.
MR BYANDALA:Thank you, Mr Speaker. Therefore, I appeal to my colleagues that all these countries that give us grants and loans are countries whose citizens pay taxes –(Interruption)
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Thank you, hon. Byandala. The reality is that even in the developed world, you may be charged for spending an hour. In Ontario Canada, every hour is taxed –(Interjections)– In Uganda, they have started the Express Highway where people will have a choice to either use the old road or pay for using the Express Highway.
This tax is optional; if you want you pay, if you don’t want you don’t pay. (Applause) That is what is under the law. That is the information I wanted to give.
MR ATKINS KATUSABE (FDC, Bukonjo County West, Kasese): I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I stand here to totally oppose the report because it violates and contradicts all the principles, practice and the structure of taxation.
The projected collection already is Shs 155 billion. Chairperson Committee on Budget, you are fully aware that this country loses up to Shs 600 billion in procurement fraud and corruption alone. (Applause) What does that mean? Shs 155 billion can be got from the Shs 600 billion that we lose to procurement fraud and we will still have a balance of Shs 455 billion.
Therefore, we are losing more to corruption but we want those that are trying to survive – Mr Speaker, I don’t want to be part of a House that works so hard to strangle those Ugandans out there that are trying to survive. Thank you very much.
MR ODONGA-OTTO: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My honourable colleague from Kasese just said that this House is attempting to strangle the poor. I am a member of the Committee on Finance and we were advised – (Interjections) -Mr Speaker, protect me from hon. Anywarach. If you transfer Shs 1,000,000, you pay Shs 20,000 to the South Africans.
Today, the Government is just asking for Shs 1,000 and everyone is up in arms; this is lack of patriotism. Is the honourable member in order to mislead the House that this tax which is being introduced to let the Uganda Government also get some money as opposed to giving it all to the South Africans – that we are strangling the peasants and yet we need it to also pay our emoluments?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the honourable member for Aruu has been dying to give information but nobody has been giving him the opportunity to do so. (Laughter)
MR KATUSABE:Thank you, for the opportunity. If we have a fundamental crisis in our country, it is called corruption. The moment Government takes on corruption squarely; we will have all the money that we need.
I would like to give specific proposals, Mr Chairman, can you explore the possibility of increasing excise tax from 10 to 18 per cent? –(Member timed out)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, we need to draw this to a close.
MR GERSHOM SIZOMU (FDC, Bungokho County North, Mbale): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to oppose the one per cent tax because it targets the poor. I do not need mobile money because I have my ATM card; I am rich and can easily access money compared to the poor people in my constituency.
If you levy a one per cent tax, it will limit the flow of money from the rich to the poor thereby increasing income inequality. This tax is going to make the poor Ugandans poorer.
The Shs 200 is going to compound to billions of money; so, a tax that targets poor people should not be entertained. I suggest that it should be abandoned. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I would like to ask the Leader of the Opposition – so that we can close. It has been a long debate.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Winfred Kiiza): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity. I know very well that the country needs money and it is our desire as the people’s leaders to ensure that we give the population the best.
We need services, we need healthcare, we need improvement of agriculture, we need infrastructure but how do we get the money to lead us to where we would like to go? We need taxes but from whom? Time and again, the issue of tax exemption for those who are supposed to pay the real tax that would redeem us from poverty has been coming up here.
Mr Speaker, just the other day, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development was asking this House to exempt big corporations from paying corporate tax, which is money on profit.
I would imagine that these telecommunication companies that are enabling our poor people to access services through mobile money transfers earn profits, which would be used for corporation tax. However, the minister of Finance was asking us to exempt them.
Members talked about the banking sector collapsing. The Uganda National Bureau of Standards put the banking sector in the country at Shs 5 million out of the 34.5 million Ugandans. The rest of the population depends entirely on accessing money through mobile money. In my district, for example –(Interruption)
MS OGWAL:Thank you, Leader of the Opposition, for giving way. I would like to inform you that one of the ways of capturing the resources of the country and making us pay more taxes is by opening up the population to formalised institutionalised savings and transactions.
If you care to read history, one of the reasons the UPC Government opened branches of Uganda Commercial Bank at sub county level was to take banking services nearer to the people and that is the only way that you can know how cash transactions are being handled.
It is the only way of building a culture of using a formalised institution and a sharp Government would notice the liquidity of the country and how we can manage to mop out where the cash is more than what we need in the economy.
Mr Speaker, I would like to inform the Leader of the Opposition that if this is a caring Government that knows that we were very hurt when the UPC banking system – the Uganda Commercial Bank – was closed –(Interjections)– it is on the Hansard that the Government promised to bring a system that would replace the rural branches; it has never happened. They promised to come through Postbank but it has never been done.
We thank God for this mobile money system; now when I want to send money to my oldest auntie in Oyam or Kisoro, I use mobile money. Would a normal Government deny this rural woman who does not even know where the bank is and how to take photographs, open an account and be recommended to access cash to transact business by using mobile money –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You rose on a point of information.
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Thank you, hon. Ogwal, for that information. Mr Speaker, when we go to hon. James Kakooza’s side that people are now travelling less and therefore, we are making less money from the would be travellers, we would be thanking God.
The state of our roads is not good and exposing many of our people to accidents is more disastrous than making the taxes. Mr Speaker, look at a situation where an old woman or man who is receiving the social security fund is supposed to travel a distance that will require the member to pay Shs 10,000 as transport but he is going to collect Shs 26,000. The bank will also take some charge – we are just missing the point.
There is money that we can get from so many Ugandans whom we are exempting. Let us increase taxes for example on tobacco consumption because after all it is written that taking tobacco kills. Let us tax alcohol. Can we levy more taxes on sachet gin, so that our youth can become more productive? We are in a country where more than 70 per cent of our youth are unemployed; a country where the boda boda industry employs more of our young people. By taxing the boda bodas, we are telling these young people to go back to the streets without jobs and then we shall start crying about butayimbwawielding people who are killing Ugandans. What message are we sending to these young people?
Secondly, we are in a country where many of the people who receive money through mobile money services are the old women. They receive little funds from their working children. They just depend on transfer earnings from relatives. Do you want to chop even the little that would be sent to such a person? We are just being unfair to our population when society has actually been unfair to them. Therefore, talking about an issue –(Interruption)
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Mr Speaker, I think we need to know the concept of this Bill and understand its intention. The Leader of the Opposition has said that it is targeting old women but it is not targeting anybody. Rather, according to the Bill, you have a choice on what you want to use. You either choose analogue or digital.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, you rose on a point of order.
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Is the honourable Leader of the Opposition in order to mislead the House by saying that the Bill is targeting old women whereas it seeks to provide a choice on where you want to go?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Unfortunately, I am unable to rule on that point of order because I have not understood it. (Laughter)
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thought the House would not be misled after I had said that the Uganda Bureau of Standards, after the census, said that only five million Ugandans are exposed to the banking sector. Therefore, there is no question of choice here but the choice left for the poor people in the villages is mobile money.
As I wind up –(Interjection)– I know your information is important, honourable colleague, but the Speaker is telling me to wind up. We are also talking about levying a tax on cooking oil. The majority of the people who are in the cooking oil business are the women. I do not know where this country wants to put the woman of Uganda. Right now, women at the border points of Rubiriha-Mpondwe, Busia and other border points are in one way or the other trading in oil.
However, even before this tax is introduced, I can tell you that my own women have been subjected to some form of tax on the crude oil coming from Congo. I do not know whether you introduced the tax before the law was made but after getting the money from them, you want to bring the law. I can tell you how these women, from time to time, are crying and spending reasonable time in jail under the Uganda Revenue authority (URA). My issue is, would we need –(Interruption)
MS OGWAL:Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition is emphasising that taxing oil would disadvantage women but it is the other way round. If the women do not use cooking oil for their husbands, many of them are going to be divorced. Therefore, the men are the ones who are going to benefit most and I would expect the men in this House to support the idea that oil should not be taxed. This is because if the women do not cook well, then we are in trouble.
Therefore, is it in order for the Leader of the Opposition to continue saying that taxing oil would disadvantage women when it is actually the men who would be disadvantaged? (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leader of the opposition, you have heard that clarification. (Laughter)
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Mr Speaker, I appreciate hon. Ogwal for the comments. By the way, what I can say is that gone are the days when women used to sit at home and wait for their husbands to bring all the necessities of life. Lately, there is mutual cooperation between husband and wife. In many of our families, it is now the women who are meeting the burden of taking care of their husbands. Therefore, for the men to say the oil should be taxed is to say that women should struggle more to make money and make the men healthy.
We want to cook very good food for our husbands and we even want to participate in this trade, but we would not want it to be so stressing for the women who are involved in this business. Therefore, I would like to request that for the good of this country, the motion be withdrawn in order to ensure that there are no income inequalities between the rich and the poor. Also, to ensure that the poor are supported – our young people are helped to be employed in some way or the other through the boda boda business.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Who is going to respond to this? Is it the chairperson or the minister?
MR MUSASIZI:Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to respond to a few issues and concerns raised by the Members. First of all, on the argument that some companies have been exempted from corporation tax and therefore the poor people should not feel the pinch of some taxes, I would like to put this on record that there are many ways companies grow. Some companies grow internally by ploughing back the profits, others by borrowing and others grow by acquisition and mergers. Therefore, it is not that when an exemption for corporation tax is given, it is a wasteful decision. It depends on the intention and the purpose upon which this exemption is given.
Secondly, the Financial Inclusion Strategy, which was launched about six months ago, included banks, mobile money operations, agency banking, the insurance sector, SACCOs among others. It is true that mobile money has helped in terms of extending financial services to the ordinary people of Uganda. However, we also have to look at the other side. The ordinary people want roads, medical care and education. These people would like Government to help them come out of poverty. What solution does Government have? The only source through which Government can raise money to facilitate social services provision is through taxation.
Mr Speaker, a few days ago, we debated ministerial policy statements and every sector that came here prayed for a budget increment. However, when you look at their unfunded priority lists, it is amazing. How can this be financed? It can only be financed through taxation.
Mr Speaker, repeatedly, we have argued on the Floor of this House that the tax to GDP ratio of our country is very low compared to other countries in the region – actually, it is the lowest in the region. In addition, Government has a target to increase this tax to GDP ratio in the medium term – actually by 2020 – from 14 per cent to 20 per cent. This can only be achieved if we embrace the idea of levying taxes across the board without being specific on mobile money.
On the issue of boda bodas, currently at registration, there is a tax charge of Shs 100,000. The proposal in the Bill is seeking to raise this to Shs 200,000 –(Interjection)– Yes, these are facts. The justification is to raise revenue; I wonder what is wrong with such a proposal. We must really come out of the box and think in terms of developing this country together.
Lastly, on the debate between taxation and corruption, there is a different relationship between these two. I know there has been concern on the side of corruption, which is glaring, and we all agree on that aspect. However, do we stop taxation simply because money is being used for a different purpose? My answer would be no. Let us raise the –(Interruption)
MR ANYWARACH:Mr Speaker, the honourable chairperson is proceeding as if this House is against taxation and Ugandans are against taxation and yet this House is only raising issues on itemised taxation. We are talking of mobile money transactions, excise duty on WhatsApp and boda bodas.
Mr Speaker, is the Member in order to impute wrong motives on Parliament that we are against taxation, which gets the money to sustain economic development, infrastructure development and so on?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, any suggestion to the effect that this Parliament does not want to raise revenue for this country would be false. We have passed many tax Bills already and we are about to pass more. Please, stick to the debate; it helps.
MR MUSASIZI: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your wise ruling. Lastly, I would like to comment about the cooking oil tax proposal of Shs 200 per litre. Cooking oil, like hon. Cecilia Ogwal said, is not only for women. This is oil used for cooking for both men and women. We think the imposition of a tax of Shs 200 per litre can help us generate revenue. That is the intention. Therefore, I would like to invite Members to look at this from that aspect. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MS OGWAL:Mr Speaker, is it in order for the honourable chairperson to misquote me by saying that I recommended that oil is not only an advantage to women but also to men? The idea is that if there is anyone to ensure that oil is not taxed, it is the man because he is the greatest beneficiary –(Interjection)
Mr Chairman, can you listen to what I am saying. The men, including you, are the greatest beneficiaries of the use of oil in the home. Therefore, is it in order for you to misquote me or to read my mind wrongly and to misunderstand my statement, which I made very loud and clear?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:Honourable members, there is no rule against misunderstanding. (Laughter)
THE VICE-CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (Ms Loy Katali): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I believe my chair has ably answered some of the things –(Ms Naggayi rose_)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The honourable member has not even said a word; now what are you seeking clarification for? Please, she has not said anything yet.
MS NAGGAYI: I seek clarification before the chairperson sits down.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: But he is not holding the Floor. You cannot seek clarification when the Member is not holding Floor. Wait for this one to make the same statement then you can seek clarification.
MS KATALI:Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your guidance. I think my chairperson has ably answered most of the things. I will go straight to what the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) said about cooking oil. Mr Speaker, when we bring loan request to this Parliament and we talk about procurement, Members complain that we are not promoting local content.
The LOP talked about cooking oil at the borders and she clearly stated that that oil comes from DR Congo. Mr Speaker, we are trying to promote local content – the producers of oil in this country. Those ladies should be selling oil that is manufactured in Uganda –(Interruption)
MR OKUPA:Mr Speaker, I would like to get clarification from the vice-chairperson of the committee. Can you clarify to me whether the tax imposed on cooking oil is on the locally produced oil or both?
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Speaker, I would like to respond to hon. Okupa’s concern. The Bill we are considering is the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill and this Bill deals with locally produced products. If we were talking about imports, we would talk about import duty but this Bill largely focuses on imported goods –(Interruption)
MR OKUPA: MrChairperson,Ido not want us to confuse the public by saying that excise duty is only on local goods; it is also levied on imported goods. I enjoyed the privilege of working with the Uganda Revenue Authority and therefore, I know these things.
MS KATALI:Mr Speaker, I beg to lay on the Table the original copy of the report and the minutes from the different meetings that we held with the different stakeholders.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Let the records capture the minutes and the copy of the report.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Thank you, Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, for the contributions that you have made on this important Bill. It is important and I know many know that tax is a contribution and not a punishment. We should all understand that. Most of these measures that we have proposed to the House contribute, for this financial year, close to Shs 1 trillion.
As the chairperson said, our tax to Gross Domestic Product is now at 14 per cent. Norway is at over 50 per cent. Rwanda here across, which we sometimes talk about, is at 18 per cent. Therefore, the burden of taxation in Uganda is the lowest in the region. Most of these taxes that we have proposed, we have thought about them, we have posted them, we have measured them and we have –(Interruption)
MSNAGGAYI: Mr Speaker, we are talking about taxes that are specifically targeting a population that does not earn much out of that business. I would like to seek clarification on the charges that these telecoms have. If they charge Shs 20,000 to send Shs 1,000,000, how much tax is on that transaction? I see that we are looking for softer targets.
Right now, we are saying if the banks were paying taxes and now the telecoms have replaced that traditional system, how much is Government getting and expecting out of every transaction?
MR BAHATI:Currently, we have been charging 10 per cent. If you are transacting and you are charged Shs 10,000 for transfer, Government gets 10 per cent. Therefore, we have increased it to 15 per cent.
Honourable colleagues, I would like us to understand this. When imposing a tax, you must measure all factors. You can say, for example, that you are going to increase tax for a company but eventually the company indirectly translates it to the customer, and that is what happens. Friends, all these tax measures – (Interruption)
MS SILVIA AKELLO: Thank you very much, honourable minister, for giving way. In most cases, people who deal in mobile money services, where we are getting the taxes, are being robbed and some of them are even killed. What are the avenues that we are giving them for security and even against conmen? What are we doing to protect what we are looking for as a source of our revenue collection?
MR BAHATI:Thank you. We have considered many factors in this tax measure. At the end of the day, we want to raise revenue in a way that will not hurt the population of Uganda. We want to raise revenue to be able to finance the budgets and services we are really advocating for.
You are talking about the poor and we know; that is why in the proposal to tax mobile money, we could not suggest a tax of 2 per cent or 10 per cent; we know that. We know that this poor person you are talking about is getting free health care –(Interruption)
MR ODONGA OTTO: Thank you so much, honourable minister. According to Bank of Uganda records, the volume of mobile money transactions in Uganda is worth Shs 19 trillion in a financial year. As of now, Government is getting only Shs 45 billion in taxes. Therefore, this small increase would make Government get Shs 115 billion.
I would propose that we increase the tax not only from 10 to 15 per cent but from 10 to 30 per cent. The information, I am giving the honourable minister is that monies have fled from the commercial banks where Government could get taxes and they have ended up in mobile money services, which seems to have more money than commercial banks. Therefore, it is the right avenue to get this money which we are unable to get through the banks.
MR BAHATI:If I can make one point, because I know if I do not make it then people will continue confusing the situation. Adding onto what hon. Odonga Otto has said, the transactions alone of mobile money now stand at Shs 60 trillion in a country whose GDP is worth Shs 100 trillion. However, how much are we getting from this?
Remember, most of these people who are involved in mobile money transactions are not taxed anywhere else. That is where they interact with the economy; they are in the informal sector and you can never find them. They want health care, free education, peace, water and all these good things. The appetite for good services must be backed by measures to support them.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the one thing that I will not tolerate is dignified Members of Parliament standing up and yelling as if they do not know what to do? I cannot sit here and watch you do this. Please, let us respect this House.
There is no point in 15 Members all yelling, “Order”. No, it does not make sense. Let one person raise the point of order – It does not justify what I am seeing. Please, let us exercise some decency in this House?
MR BAHATI:I would like to thank hon. Cecilia Ogwal for the point she has raised about cooking oil. I wanted to inform hon. Cecilia Ogwal that most of these companies which are manufacturing cooking oil are actually getting exemptions for their materials.
There are also other factors. Well, I know you have glorified cooking oil but I know that if you look at it from the health perspective, they also have issues. You cannot stand to glorify cooking oil as if it is something that – There are also other factors.
MS JOY ATIM: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the honourable minister for his statement about oil, in which he talks about charging tax and reducing on health issues. However, I want to assure the minister that cigarettes and alcohol in sachets are also hazardous to the community of this country but he has not taxed them.
Did you know that the majority of the population in this country is women? These women are now fending for their families, but you are taking this tax burden to them, especially those women in the rural areas. The women in the rural areas are the ones fending for the family. The men have given up; they are not supporting their families. Do you know that you are now taxing the woman who is already poor in this case?
MR OKUPA: Thank you. You are talking about the cooking oil; I posed a question to the leadership of the committee but I did not get a response. Can you now clarify to me the excise duty on cooking oil? Is it for both the imported and locally produced cooking oil?
On the issue of mobile money, we have been asking if we could have a law to regulate the mobile money business but you have failed to bring it. Is there a risk that after imposing this tax, someone will take us to court because there is no law to regulate mobile money?
MR KYAGULANYI: Thank you very much, honourable minister. I appreciate the fact that you mentioned that taxation is a duty and not a punishment. Allow me to inform you that over taxation is not only punishment but oppression.
Where I come from, mobile money is not just a business but a livelihood. Due to insecurity, people depend mainly on mobile money. I will give an example of a fairly decent Ugandan who earns Shs 1 million and they spend all that money through mobile money. If the taxation was levied once, we would not argue so much about it but since it is mobile money, it is charged on every transaction, received or sent. That means if that person receives that money, they are being taxed on their salary; when they pay for their children’s fees, they get taxed; and they continue to be taxed at every level, which I believe is oppression. At the end of the day, honourable minister, you realise that life is actually being taxed. Somebody is being taxed multiple times.
I am not going to raise an argument on the cooking oil or the motorcycles but I would like to suggest that we indeed drop this taxation idea. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
MR BAHATI: Colleagues, I must wind up; I will not give way unless it is a point of order.
The other question, which hon. Joy Atim raised, was the issue of cigarettes and spirits. We are taxing them. If you look at the Bill, you will realise that we are taxing them and they attract one of the highest taxes. Look at undenatured spirits made from locally produced raw materials; we are taxing them 60 per cent.
We must differentiate between taxation and banning. If you do not want a product, you can ban it, and you have the powers to do so. However, if you are talking about taxation, you must balance it in such a way that the company stays in business. Otherwise, if you want to tax it to the bone marrow, then you would rather ban it. That is the choice we have to make.
Mr Speaker, these tax measures have been evaluated. They have taken into consideration the poor and their requirements. (Interruption)
MR AKENA: In the debate, the arithmetic was totally wrong. When we brought up the issue of the elderly receiving Shs 26,000, I think one person said that the taxes would be Shs 260, and that is only for receiving. If they withdraw, there is another tax of one per cent. If they send it, there is another tax. Therefore, the minimum is going to be Shs 540 to receive Shs 26,000.
Honourable minister, you say that it is people outside of the economy, but it is the Government’s choice to go for indirect taxes. Anybody who spends even one shilling in Uganda is being taxed, whether you buy salt or pay a taxi fare. Everything is being taxed indirectly. It is by choice that graduated taxes were removed and other taxes, which have direct accountability.
However, on the issue of mobile money, I do not think you are being honest with us because the minimum is going to be double taxation, for receiving and withdrawing. The object of the Bill says to receive and to withdraw; that would take two per cent immediately.
MR BAHATI: We can debate these measures but it is important that we debate them after receiving this information. The resources that we use to finance the budget come mainly from three sources. One of them is revenue mobilisation, the second is borrowing. We have had requests to do with borrowing on the Floor of the House. However, even when you borrow, you must use domestically generated revenue to pay the principal and the interest.
Therefore, when we charge something small for the mobile money business and the boda bodas – There are issues I have been raising here about boda bodas. I think we must be consistent because sometimes we say one thing and the next day we say something else. It is important that we are consistent. The most important thing we should ask is: “is this tax going to hurt the poor?” If so, by how much is it going to hurt them?
Remember, there is no tax that is priceless. If there was an option, no Ugandan would opt to pay tax. Unfortunately, there are few things that you cannot avoid in life – death and tax. However, when we are imposing it, it must be reasonable. That is why we are saying one per cent and not two or three per cent. We are imposing something small.
Therefore, I would like to thank Members for the contribution you have made and we look forward to meeting you at the committee stage. Thank you.
MR CENTENARY: Thank you. The procedural point I am raising is based on the debates that have ensued here. One is about the policy on regulating mobile money transactions, which is now becoming a taxable item.
Mr Speaker, wouldn’t it be procedurally right for the honourable minister to first of all bring the guidelines that regulate this mobile money industry? Transaction costs are usually raised from time to time. One time, you pay Shs 20,000 to withdraw Shs 1,000,000; another time, it will be Shs 30,000. We need to regulate this industry and then tax it properly. Wouldn’t it be procedurally right that we start thinking about taxing the mobile money industry after streamlining it through a proper law?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:Honourable members, one of the principles of taxation is that there will be no taxation without representation. Taxation does not have to be based on any other law except the law creating the tax. We do not have to premise on any other law except that law that creates that tax. That is what they are trying to do in this Bill.
This law is now creating the tax; what do you need another law for to create the tax? This law is creating the tax to regulate a sector that is already functional. Money is exchanging hands and transactions are taking place and they are proposing that those sets of transactions should attract some kind of taxation. That is what they are proposing here. Therefore, we are proceeding very well.
Honourable members, we need to make progress on these issues. Honourable minister, let us see how to conclude this issue. This Bill does not only talk about mobile money transactions, cooking oil and motorcycles; it has other components. The best way to deal with those aspects that do not have any issues and those that have issues is to move to committee stage and deal with them there because the debate has been sufficient to cover the subject.
Honourable members, this is Parliament and it is an institution that is in charge of policy decisions. No law will become law unless Parliament approves it. No tax will become chargeable unless this Parliament approves it. That means we must exercise some level of responsibility when we decide on which taxes to apply and which taxes not to apply.
Therefore, the fundamental question that we should be asking ourselves is: is it okay that this sector is not taxed at all? – Is it okay, really, honourable members, that you have transactions going into trillions of shillings that are not attracting tax? Is it okay? Let us systemise our debate. If it is not okay, is the proposal reasonable? If it is not reasonable, what is reasonable?
It should not be for Parliament to say that this should not be taxed at all. In all fairness, considering everything and what we are going to do today and tomorrow in terms of passing a budget that needs to be financed. If we take that decision, then we now need to assess whether it is reasonable. If it is not reasonable, then debate that and take a decision on it, instead of saying “no” on oil and on everything. Where then do you get the money from? I think it is a question of how much and not never.
I am going to put the question on the motion for second reading of the Bill and we will then go to committee stage where we will take those decisions. Is that okay?
MS AOL: Mr Speaker, I would like to get one thing clear and also to propose. We have this transactional fee which is now even a burden on us; what If we decide to reduce on that and let part of it become the tax that we need? I suggest this because people are now overburdened by that transactional fee. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable minister, there are also issues you need to consider. Many of us use mobile money. If you transfer across networks, the costs are extremely exorbitant. It is the same economy, the same people and same Government; why would you pay Shs 10,000 for a transaction from MTN to MTN and for the same amount you pay Shs 50,000 when you are crossing the networks? Does it make sense really? (Applause)
These are things we should harmonise so that cross-network transactions are harmonised properly and do not impose an extra burden on the people. If you are using M-Sente, you should be able to transact across networks without any additional costs. (Applause) If you are using Airtel Money or MTN Mobile Money, it should be the same cost across board. These are the regulatory things that Government should get involved in because leaving it freelance is killing people. The experience is that when you send money from MTN to Airtel, you pay almost the equivalent of the money you have sent. Those are things you should talk about and bring everybody on board and then we move together.
MR OKUPA: Mr Speaker, I think that is why the minister was dodging the question I asked him. I asked, what is the law regulating this business? It was based on that. The minister should first respond to that question you have put. Now that it is from you, the Speaker, I would like to see how he is going to dodge it. (Laughter) He should be able to respond to that. Those are the concerns.
The other one is that, if you are anywhere in the world, you can be able to send mobile money but the cost of sending it is high. If you are in the USA, for example, and you have money on your phone, you can send it to Uganda but the cost is about three to four times higher. Those are things that the minister needs to clarify first.
It is not just about bringing the taxes. No one is opposed to the issue of taxing, but these are the concerns. That is why we needed a law. Remember even hon. Katuntu went to court over this matter and the courts said, “You are right but you are the people who are supposed to make the law; go back and make the law”. Hon. Katuntu brought this to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. They promised to come here and Bank of Uganda also promised but nothing happened. (Mr Katusabe rose_)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, on what matter do you rise?
MR KATUSABE: In response to concrete –(Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are not on the Floor; you cannot be responding. (Laughter) You either rise on information, procedure or order; you do not just show up, honourable member. (Laughter)
MR KATUSABE: Concrete proposals, Mr Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. Are you debating?
MR KATUSABE: I have further information on concrete proposals – (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Proceed.
MR KATUSABE: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I totally agree with you that we are caught up in a catch-22 situation. We have a budget and we need the money to fund the budget. I rise basically to offer, if it helps, specific and concrete proposals on mobile money.
We can increase excise duty from 10 per cent, as it is today, to about 17 per cent. Secondly, I propose that we introduce a 0.3 per cent charge on cash-outs. The third proposal is that we introduce 0.3 per cent on withdrawal fees, specifically focussing on the agency banking. The reason –(Interjections)Please, let me make my point.
MR AOGON: Mr Speaker, when anybody is driving and they are not sure of where they are going, they need to go to their brakes. I am rising on a point of procedure. When we are dealing with figures, we must watch the figures critically. We are talking about one per cent tax on mobile money here but he is talking of 0.3 per cent, which is actually three times heavier than what we have been talking about here –(Interjections)- Yes! First take time to listen.
What is the implication of the 0.3 per cent that we are talking about? Maybe you wanted to say 0.03 per cent and not 0.3 per cent. This is because 0.3 per cent is heavier than one per cent.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Therefore, the procedure –
MR AOGON: The procedure is whether it is correct for us to allow the Member –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you proceeding properly, honourable member?
MR AOGON: That is what I am inquiring – whether he is proceeding properly.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. I am asking whether you are proceeding properly. (Laughter)
MR AOGON: Maybe I did not hear him properly, but he was saying 0.3 per cent yet we are saying 0.1 per cent. Which of them is higher than the other? –(Interjections)-Did he say one per cent or 0.1 per cent? Thank you.
MR KATUSABE: Mr Speaker, my second degree is in statistics. Therefore, I would like to encourage my colleague to recognise that I meant what I said and I made some statistical computation.
The reason I was saying that is because we are targeting Shs 155 billion if we upheld the one per cent. However, if we applied my proposal, we would be able to generate Shs 232 billion – if we applied 17.5 per cent on withdrawal fees, 0.3 per cent on cash-outs and 0.3 per cent on agency banking. In other words, we will have Shs 77 billion in addition to Shs 155 billion.
Mr Speaker, I am speaking with statistical influence. Thank you.
MR MUWANGA KIVUMBI: Mr Speaker, for the record, I do not stand here to purely oppose this tax. However, I want three things to be made clear. If I am going to send Shs 1 million, for example to my mother in the village, I would be required to pay a transaction cost of Shs 20,000 for sending. It is me who is paying. It is me who bears the tax. On top of that, you are saying I must also pay an extra one per cent. On receiving the money, the old woman will also pay withdrawal fees.
My bone of contention is that normally, the one who sends – I send money to my voters but they always ask me to ensure that I pay the withdrawal fee. That is a trend and we do it every day. If I am going to pay someone Shs 1 million, he or she will insist that I pay the withdrawal charge. It happens to whoever sends money. This person will pay the transaction fee for Shs 1 million, which is Shs 20,000, and yet you are planning to impose other taxes.
My humble appeal to the minister is that he should go back and reconsider that kind of tragedy, where one person is being taxed. My proposal is that we should remove the percentage on withdrawal. Mr Speaker, you are sending money to the poorest of the poor –(Interruption)
MR AOL BETTY: Thank you, honourable member, for giving way. I would like to give information that if you are sending Shs 100,000 and you want the person receiving the money to withdraw exactly Shs 100,000, you pay Shs 103,000, which attracts more fees than the Shs 100,000. You are giving that person Shs 103,000 yet you are also paying a sending fee, which is more than what you could have paid if you were to send Shs 100,000.
Mr Speaker, that is a challenge to us. You want to meet the fees for your mother and yet they are going to charge you more on what you intend to pay. Thank you.
MR MUWANGA KIVUMBI: Mr Speaker, there is also the problem you have raised about transactions across networks.
My other bone of contention is that we already have a budget proposal where expected revenue from this tax is incorporated and there is a minister at hand. Therefore, for us to come here and simply say “remove”, we would have to look at the other side and consider how difficult it would be to raise the money.
Mr Speaker, I have had an opportunity to critically look at the budget before this Parliament. I think it is a budget that is going to heavily depend on borrowed money. However, care must be taken so that the poorest of the poor are not hit hardest by the taxes we intend to impose.
Therefore, my humble proposal is that the minister, who has everything at hand, goes back and solves the following things: The first is the money that is imposed during transactions. Can we innovate around that? The argument of the minister is that if we do so, companies will automatically transfer that burden by raising the fees. Without regulations, which Members have talked about, companies would be at liberty to do so. This is because we have no regulatory mechanism on how to handle it.
My humble appeal to the minister is that he goes back and solves that problem so that we can get something fairer, reflecting a figure that will not be injurious to the overall budget revenue source.
MR ANYWARACH: Mr Speaker, there was a time you quoted something from the American War of Independence, 1975 – no taxation without law – and it goes to exactly what hon. Okupa was raising.
Mr Speaker, before we go to the committee stage, the committee chairperson made a submission to the effect that boda bodas are charged Shs 100,000 and if they make an additional increment, it would go to Shs 150,000. We want to set the record straight. Boda bodas pay the following taxes: They pay registration fee of Shs 268,000; on top of that, they pay Shs 500,000 as taxes, which if combined is already Shs 768,000. They also pay Shs 127,000 for the number plates and they pay for other things like insurance, boda boda stage, memberships, etcetera. All this comes to over Shs 900,000. We should make the records clear.
For those of us who come from the border – Arua, Adjumani, Koboko, Yumbe and maybe even Ntoroko – sometimes our people buy motorcycles from Congo. When they come back, they start riding immediately. Some of these people sold their land to buy the motorcycles. As soon as they start riding to raise money to begin paying taxes, they are told taxes are not paid in bits. As a result, their motorcycles are impounded and sometimes they are arrested. When the tax agents are selling the impounded motorcycles, they sell them through an auction and sometimes they are sold at Shs 300,000 or Shs 400,000. Therefore, as we go to the committee stage –(Member timed out.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please, wind up.
MR ANYWARACH: As we go to the committee stage, the committee chairperson and the minister should look at the burden that these young men have. Thank you.
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, I think you have guided us well, that “no tax” is not the best option but we could have a win-win situation as we move forward. That is very important. If that conversation can start at committee stage, maybe a few of us will make some proposals. However, I would like to request that we should maintain some transactional fee on mobile money and look at other areas and then balance the issue of the resources we had already provided for. Therefore, I think we are now at a very right moment to move to the committee stage. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, can I now put the question to the motion for the Bills’ second reading? Honourable members, I now put the question to the motion that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read the second time. I put the question.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE EXCISE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I put the question that clause 1 stand part of the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 1, agreed to.
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairman, we propose to amend clause 2 as follows:
i)By deleting the headnote and substituting it with the following: “2. Amendment of section 2 of the Excise Duty Act, 2014”
ii)In the definition of “over the top services”, delete the words, “but does not include educational or research sites prescribed by the minister by notice in the Gazette.”
The justification is: to correct the drafting error and also, it is difficult to differentiate what will be used for education and research.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Can you read the new provision? How will the amended provision read?
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairperson, the new provision will read as follows:
“Amendment of section 2 of the Excise Duty Act, 2014…
‘over the top services’ means the transmission or receipt of voice or messages over the internet protocol network and includes access to virtual private networks.”
We are deleting “but does not include…” We would like to stop at “private networks”.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:Honourable members, that is the proposal from the committee.
MR ANYWARACH: Mr Chairperson, I think this “over the top services” is where you are going to tax voice messages over the internet protocol and so on and you can only access internet services through service providers. In most cases, these service providers are actually telecom companies like MTN, Africell, to mention a few. By the time you are accessing these services, you would have already paid for airtime.
If we want to stifle development, growth and economic development in this country, let us actually put taxes on communication avenues like Information Technology (IT). I think we are going to completely miss the point.
I would think the right suggestion would be that this amendment is deleted in its entirety – (Interjections)- Mr Chairperson, you need to protect me from my brother-in-law, hon. Odonga Otto. You know, hon. Otto is so exposed that he knows that when you go to developed countries, the cost of communications is so low that it is easy for you. Communication is where development starts. If we really go on and tax it, we will have a situation where I load my airtime and as I am taking a call on WhatsApp or a voice call on Viber, the moment airtime gets done, I cannot access that service and yet I already paid taxes by the time I bought the airtime.
Mr Chairperson and colleagues, I think we need to reconsider, if you want a trade-off. We need to reconsider and delay –(Interruption)
MR OGUZU: Mr Chairperson, I wanted to inform the Member that Uganda signed to a principle known as net neutrality. There is an understanding that Over the Top Services (OTTs) must not be treated differently by any telecom communications company. Uganda is a signatory to that –(Interjections)– We can, at an opportune time. However, that should be investigated. Uganda has signed to that and it requires that no OTT must be treated differently.
MR ANYWARACH: I thank you for the information. Finally, honourable minister, I have good news for you. Yesterday, I proposed on the Floor of this Parliament that we should exempt broadcasting equipment and you said, “No; we need to think about it and maybe consider it next financial year”.
Mr Chairperson, this is also something we need to think about because he is bringing a new component in the taxation regime. However, it is also going to have an effect on economic development. Many Ugandans do businesses online using WhatsApp and other platforms. Therefore, my understanding is that if we can – Uganda is not ending today or even next year – we can still think about it because tax laws are amendable every year. I beg to submit.
MR AOGON: Mine is to support what hon. Anywarach has said. Any decisions that we take as a country are based on information. It is not good for us to stifle information flow. Secondly, it is also true that when we buy bundles and airtime, we already pay tax; so in a way, we need to do a study. The minister should crosscheck and find out. Most likely, you will discover that we are going to impose double taxation, which is not acceptable.
Therefore, I will go by the proposal to delete that clause for the good of the common man. As Uganda, we are now looking at science and technology; how do we promote it if we do not have information flow? That is my proposal. Let us delete that clause. Thank you.
MR BAHATI: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. First, to allay the fears of hon. Anywarach, it is not true that we are imposing tax on data, which is a main source of information. We are not taxing data. We are not taxing the internet. We are taxing OTTs.
If you are using WhatsApp or Viber, the Shs 200 which we are proposing here will actually translate to Shs 70,000 per year. That is what we are talking about. It is Shs 70,000 the entire year –(Interjections)– You are making a contribution of Shs 70,000 for the whole year; can you imagine! It is as simple as that.
We are not taxing data and internet. We are not taxing educational materials; you are aware of that. Therefore, Mr Chairperson, in simple terms, this is what we are trying to do. You are providing Shs 200 per day for access and it is translated into Shs 70,000 per year. It is very little but it is a contribution to the development of your country.
MR AOGON: Mr Chairperson, without the bundles that we buy, we cannot access WhatsApp. I know that very well. You have got to have mobile money and then you can use it to buy Megabytes (MBs) before you can access WhatsApp. How do you tax what has already been taxed? That is the issue. If you doubt what we are saying, let us then do some practicals here and then you will see.
MS NYAKECHO: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I would like to seek clarification from the minister. We know that OTT services are mostly consumed by the young people. They are the ones you find using WhatsApp and Facebook. These are graduates who do not have a lot of money. Before you access these services, you have to load airtime, which is again translated into internet bundles of whatever amount you want. Already, I assume you will have paid some tax. So, isn’t this double taxation?
MR BAHATI: Mr Chairperson, the taxes we are talking about are different. The taxes the honourable member was referring to are different. First of all, like I said, it is important to note that we are not taxing data. If you are accessing the internet, we are not taxing data but we are –(Interjections)– Yes, we are not taxing the internet access.
If you look at the excise duty on page 6, it is per user per day of access. So, if you do not use WhatsApp in a day, you do not contribute. However, if you use it, you only contribute Shs 200. That is what we are saying. Double taxation would mean you are paying double taxes for the same service. However, this is different.
MR OKUPA: Can I ask for clarification, honourable minister. You are saying the charge is every time you access. When I open my phone to read a message sent by hon. Bahati to me, do you tax me? When I open my WhatsApp to send a message to the chairperson of the committee, will you tax me again? Is that what you are saying?
MR BAHATI: No, when you access your WhatsApp at 6 a.m. in the morning, you then qualify to contribute that Shs 200. You can access WhatsApp a million times that day as long as you would like. (Interruption)
MR OKUPA: Honourable minister, you can only be off WhatsApp once you do not have data. However, once you have data, you will be on full time. Sometimes, you will find the messages are already delivered. So, once you have data on your phone, you are on WhatsApp full time.
MR BAHATI: Yes, that is why we are not taxing data. We are only charging.
MR OKUPA: But, you buy data –(Interruption)
MR BAHATI: How would you access WhatsApp if you do not have data? Data is not being taxed. We are not taxing internet but we are taxing –(Interruption)
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Thank you, honourable minister. In clause 2, we are amending Act 11 – the Excise Duty Act, 2014. Here, we are trying to define “over the top services”. This is what this clause intends to do. It says, “‘Over the top services’ means the transmission or receipt of voice or messages over the internet protocol network and includes access to virtual private networks but does not include educational or research sites prescribed by the minister by notice in the Gazette”.
That means they would like to exempt people who are doing research according to this definition, and gazette –(Interruption)– Yes, it does not include educational and research sites, and this has been a complaint, that when you go to research –(Interjections)– Of course, there is already a schedule in the Bill, where the minister already gazettes. That is what clause 2 is trying to do. If you read the Bill, clause 2 is trying to define what is exempted and what is not exempted.
MR KASULE: Mr Chairperson, I hope the honourable members agree to listen to me.
We have a dilemma as technology is changing every day. People are no longer using the normal calls that Government has been taxing. Excise duty of 12 per cent has been paid per normal call. Now because technology is turning into voice messaging, WhatsApp calls and others, we are losing revenue. Even institutions are losing money on normal calls because people are changing as technology changes.
Mr Chairperson, we have now locked in figures in the budget; education and defence need trillions of shillings and we are at the tail end of the budgeting process. Therefore, if we refuse this tax Government is proposing, that means we will not fulfil the agenda of Government as far as meeting revenue to support service delivery is concerned.
Honourable members, technology is changing. Artificial intelligence is here. We already have bitcoin; so, we need to come back here next year to tax such kind of banking that is emerging. Honourable members, we must move with the times because technology is not waiting for us. I thank you, Mr Chairperson.
COL (RTD) MWESIGYE: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. Honourable colleagues, whereas I appreciate that we are paid to talk, we should be mindful about how we raise revenue to support the ever-increasing demands for infrastructure, electricity and our salaries, which we are all dying for in our constituencies and personally here. How do you want us to raise the revenue to meet all these demands if you are failing to appreciate this small tax? It is not even a big tax. Mr Chairperson –(Interruption)
MR ODONGA OTTO: Thank you, hon. Mwesigye. Research, which has been done by a university student, shows that people use WhatsApp only during weekdays and in many cases, during working hours. You walk to every office, one after another, and the staff are even stealing office time to enjoy private chats on WhatsApp.
I did economics at the university, mind you. (Laughter) WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook are ostentatious commodities. They are almost like perfume. The ordinary man in the village can do without it. (Applause) We are looking for a certain category of people who do not mind about the Shs 200. Personally, I do not mind because I need WhatsApp. It is a tax, which is targeting the elites – those who are ostentatious. It does not affect the ordinary man in Pader. That is the information I wanted to give. (Applause)
COL (RTD) MWESIGYE: Thank you, my dear colleague, for that useful information. As you have heard, dear colleagues, let us not waste a lot of time on this matter; let us all support this tax so that we meet the demand in your constituencies and our personal demands as Members of Parliament. We should –(Interruption)
MR LUGOLOOBI:Mr Chairman, right now we are dealing with a national budget and I have noted the fiscal deficit. The target in the Charter for Fiscal Responsibility, which we have to comply with, is 3 per cent. As we speak, instead of this fiscal deficit reducing from 5 per cent downwards, it is now increasing to 8 per cent. The deficit is widening, which is a very big threat to our economy.
Friends, if you really love your economy and you want your economy to survive, you have to generate more tax revenue. We cannot sustain this economy by borrowing, and remember that most of the resources today are domestically borrowed, which is very expensive for this country. Let us save this country by asking our people to pay taxes. That is the only way. We all agree that the way we do things has migrated from the way we used to do them; it is now more than at the convenience –
COL (RTD) MWESIGYE: This was information. Mr Chairperson, let us be realistic and save this country and our constituencies because the deficit is increasing as a result of our demands. We want electricity, schools, and technical institutions in every sub-county and we want to increase salaries. Even you want a salary increment. How do you think you will –(Interruption)
LT COL (RTD) RWAMIRAMA: Thank you, honourable colleague, for giving way. Mr Chairperson, I would like to inform you that in Africa, in terms of the cost of mobile telephone calls and data, Uganda is still the lowest. I was in Burundi where if you make a call, it costs three times as much as here. I was in Mozambique where a call costs four times as much as in Uganda –(Interjection)– I am not known for telling lies; it can be verified.
Mr Chairperson, this is an area where we can generate money to cover some of these deficits. Therefore, people should be encouraged to approve this tax because it is necessary.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, let us stand over this clause and come back to it. (Applause)
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I put the question that clause 3 stand part of the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 3, agreed to.
Clause 4, agreed to.
Clause 5, agreed to.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, we propose to amend clause 6 as follows:
1.In paragraph (a) by substituting item (d) with the following: “(d) opaque beer – 30 per cent or Shs 650 per litre, whichever is higher.”
The justification is: to impose the same rate of tax on products, which are similar, being made from the same products.
2. In paragraph (b) by substituting for item (c) the following: “Ready to drink spirits – 80 per cent or Shs 1500 per litre, whichever is higher.”
The justification is that when computed, the equivalent of 80 per cent should be Shs 1500 not Shs 1300.
3. By inserting a new paragraph (d) immediately after paragraph (c) to substitute item 5(a) with the following: “Non-alcoholic beverages not including fruits or vegetable juices – 12 per cent or Shs 200 per litre, whichever is higher.”
The justification: to enhance Uganda’s competiveness in the East African region where these countries are charging 10 per cent.
4. By inserting a new paragraph (h) immediately after paragraph (g) to read as follows: “16. Sugar confectionaries – nil.”
The justification is: to enhance Uganda’s competitiveness in the East African region where these countries have exempted confectionaries.
5. Paragraph (h) is amended as follows:
(a)In item 20, substitute the words “two hundred” with the words “one hundred”.
(b)By substituting for item 21(a) the following: “a minimum planned investment capital of US$ 15 million in the case of a foreigner or US$ 10 million in the case of a citizen of a Partner State of the East African Community.”
(c)By inserting a new paragraph (b) to read as follows: “a bank guarantee/bank draft of the equivalent of the sums of money under item 21(a).”
(d)In item 22, substitute the word “fifteen” with the word “eight”.
(e)In item 23, substitute the word “ten” with the word “five.”
The justification is to reduce the capital threshold to attract investors to the country.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, chairperson. I would like you to go back to your proposed amendment No. 4, where you are using brackets. Did you maintain those brackets? You took them out? Okay, thank you.
Honourable members, that is the proposal from the chairperson of the committee. Can I put the question to those amendments as proposed? I put the question to the amendments.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MR BAHATI:Mr Chairperson, I wanted to convince the chairperson to drop the issue of bank guarantee/bank draft in (c) because this is in relation to the incentives. If somebody is going to invest Shs 200 million and you say he should put a bank guarantee of Shs 200 million, most of this is a cash guarantee and it complicates the situation.
The law itself is enough to give us a guarantee, instead of forcing somebody to invest and again look for money to look for a guarantee or a bank draft. You know that one cannot get a bank draft without cash.
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairperson, I agree with the minister, therefore I concede.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Would you like to withdraw your amendment? Proceed.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, I would like to withdraw our earlier amendment under No. 4(c) – “A bank guarantee or bank draft of the equivalent of the sums of money under item 21(a).”
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the motion we had adopted included this amendment. Now the motion is to withdraw that amendment from the proposals. I put the question to that.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MR BAHATI:The last one that I have is on the amendment to clause 6(a) where the chairperson has proposed Shs 650 per litre. Those of you who participate in this will know that as we speak, a bottle of Kibuku beer is at Shs 2,000 per litre and its cost is Shs 700. We are saying that the tax should be 30 per cent of this cost, which is Shs 211. If we put the figure of Shs 650 when the actual cost of producing it is Shs 700, when you say “whichever is higher”, you will go with the higher amount. As a result, you will find the cost of Kibuku beer going to Shs 1,600 or Shs 1,700.
One of the reasons why this product has been treated this way is because they use our local materials like maize to make it, unlike other spirits and drinks. Therefore, it is important that we balance it so that we can make a decision –(Interruption)
MS FRANCA AKELLO: Mr Chairperson, when Kibuku beer and some other products were brought before the committee, the samples did not include one-litre bottles; they had half-litre bottles and each was going for Shs 2,000. Here, we are legislating for a litre. The cost of a bottle of Kibuku beer, which you are saying is Shs 2,000 per litre, is not correct. It is Shs 2,000 per half litre. Your calculations should therefore be in regard to that measurement.
MR BAHATI:I would like to suggest that instead of taking this figure, which they have proposed, let us remain with 30 per cent. Let us avoid the Shs 650 because when you calculate it – We really do not want to drive companies out of business; we would rather leave it at 30 per cent.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable minister, you cannot do that; there has to be consistency in the law. Other provisions are making those double alternatives and you want this particular one, because of Kibuku, not to apply. We have to be consistent in our legislation.
The justification here is to impose the same rate of tax on products, which are similar, being made from the same product. In other words, to balance make them even.
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: We decided to do so because in canons of taxation, tax must be easy to collect and that is the principle. When you make it of the same footing, URA charges this type of beer on ad valorem.
When they say 30 per cent or Shs 650 per litre, it is because the gadget they have measures in litres, so you cannot say that you will remain with only 30 per cent. When they are calculating, they do so depending on the litres produced in the industry and we are putting them on the same footing with others so that it is not discriminatory.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, when this matter came up, the concerned stakeholders appeared before the committee with different brands of beer to prove to the honourable members of the committee that these products are produced using the same raw materials and the branding is the same. The only difference is the name. They are not asking for anything more than equal treatment as far as taxation is concerned. Therefore, I do not see any harm that this proposal is likely to create.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No, I have already put the question and we have adopted it. I now put the question that clause 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: We stood over clause 2.
MR ANYWARACH:Mr Chairperson, the gist of this law is in clause 6, where we find the Shs 200 per litre increment on cooking oil in 18 and in 19, the Shs 200,000 on motorcycles. I stood to make my justification as we debated. I seek your guidance on when we can raise this because what we stood over has a bearing on Schedule 2. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable member, when they called for clause 6, the committee chairperson proposed amendments. I put the question and it was adopted. The honourable minister rose to make some alteration on what we had we had adopted and the House agreed to one change and rejected the other. We called for the final vote on clause 6, as amended, and there was nothing so we adopted it.
MR ANYWARACH: Mr Chairperson, I personally stood up.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: We can recommit it. Are there still issues on clause 2?
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, I can repeat it. I had already proposed –
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: They had already proposed an amendment to delete, “…but does not include educational or research sites prescribed by the minister by notice in the Gazette.” That is what the committee proposes to delete. I put the question to the deletion of those words in clause 2.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MR ANYWARACH:Mr Chairperson, my proposal was deletion of the whole of clause 2 and my justification is that the moment I load internet data on my telephone, I can either use it for direct calls or direct messages by Short Message Service (SMS). I may also choose to use WhatsApp messages or calls or Messenger calls. However, the length of time that I can access these services is determined by the amount of data that I have and the amount of data is determined by my airtime. In a nutshell, we are doing double taxation.
My question would be, would it have been different if I decided to use my data to make direct voice calls or used airtime or sent a message using my airtime? It is actually the same. We are even going ahead to violate the United Nations (UN) resolution that internet access is a right.
Therefore, as long as the OTT services are accessed through internet connection, I would think – Minister, we have considered so many of your proposals, including even accepting to come to committee stage. Let us drop this idea, delete clause 2 and then we can compute because it has a bearing on clause 6, which I was proposing. That is where the charge is on the over the top services. Thank you, Mr Chairperson.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, let us move together. If the UN says internet services are a right, does it mean they should be free? Let us deal with the issue in a more pragmatic way.
Can I put the question for deletion? The proposal from hon. Anywarach is that clause 2, which we have amended, be deleted. I put the question that clause 2 be deleted.
(Question put and negatived.)
The Title, agreed to.
MOTION FOR THE HOUSE TO RESUME
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Chairperson, I beg to move that the House do resume and the Committee of the whole House reports thereto.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the motion is for resumption of the House to enable the Committee of the whole House report. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
(The House resumed, the Deputy Speaker presiding.)
REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): I beg to report that the Committee of the whole House has considered the Bill entitled, “The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018” and passed it with amendments.
MOTION FOR ADOPTION OF THE REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the report from the Committee of the whole House be adopted.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion is for adoption of the report of the Committee of the whole House. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MR JOSHUA ANYWARACH (Independent, Padyere County, Nebbi): Mr Speaker, I move a motion for re-committal of clause 6 on the amendment of Schedule 2 of the principal Act. My concern is –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It has been seconded by Members of Parliament for Kilak South County, Kalungu County West and Lira Municipality. Yes, hon. Anywarach, would you like to justify your motion for re-committal?
MR ANYWARACH: Mr Speaker, in the course of debating the principle of the Bill, we realised that three items were very contentious. We followed your guidance that we cannot reject it totally but we may have to reconsider the amounts, especially for cooking oil, which has an increment of Shs 200 per litre – that is 18 – and under No. 19, motorcycle registration at first registration, which is Shs 200,000.
I said that right now, motorcycle registration, from paying for the number plate to registration fees and taxes, will go to over Shs 900,000. Therefore, we need to reconsider the figure and that is why I wish the House to accept the re-committal. The third amount is the one per cent on mobile money transactions. I beg to submit.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion has been moved for re-committal of specifically clause 6. I put the question that the Bill be re-committed for purposes of reconsidering clause 6.
(Question put and negatived.)
THE EXCISE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled, “The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018” be read the third time and do pass.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion is that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read the third time and do pass.
(Question put and agreed to.)
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, “THE EXCISE DUTY (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2018
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Congratulations, honourable chairperson, honourable minister; and thank you, honourable members, for a lovely debate.
THE TRAFFIC AND ROAD SAFETY ACT, 1998 (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled, “The Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018” be read the second time. (Interruption)
MR OKUPA: Mr Speaker, there were very pertinent issues. I know we have passed the Bill into law but there were concerns that Members raised, including what you, Mr Speaker, raised and I think the minister should make a commitment that those issues will be addressed. We have a passed a law but the issue of transaction costs in mobile money and the regulations require attention. The Government should assure Ugandans that regulations and the law will be brought to control or regulate mobile money transactions in this country.
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, we are currently applying the following laws to regulate the sector: The Uganda Communications Corporation (UCC) Act and the Bank of Uganda Act. The UCC Act regulates the operations of telecommunication companies and the Bank of Uganda Act and the Financial Institutions Act also look at mobile money transactions.
However, we recognise that they are not sufficient to cater for emerging technologies and we are proposing a payments system Bill, which will be coming very soon. We would like to commit to this House that we shall try, as much as possible, to ensure that we come up with regulations that cater for the issues that have been raised by Members this afternoon.
MR KAKOOZA: Mr Speaker, I think you need to guide the House on the Traffic and Road Safety Act so that we are on record. When you look at the object of the Bill, basing on the last two weeks and how you ruled, you said that for a substantive law to be amended, it must go to its original law. This is the Traffic and Road Safety Act, which is trying to amend a Finance Act. I am finding it difficult to see how the Road Safety Act, which is already regulating vehicles on the road, is trying to repeal a tax measure. The Ministry of Works and Transport are actually the owners of the Bill.
In addition, if you want to restrict what is in here, there is an import and trade law of 1969, which still exists. What we want to do in this Bill should be placed in this proper law and not in the Traffic and Road Safety Act.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable minister, what is the purpose of this law?
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, first and foremost, the issues raised by hon. Kakooza have been raised, even before the Attorney-General. When we are developing these laws, we seek advice from the Attorney-General. We had proposed to bring a Finance Bill for this year, which we have not brought so far. However, the Attorney-General, given the content of this Bill and the object of the Bill, which was to vary the environmental levy on motor vehicles and to ban the importation of motor vehicles that are eight years old from the date of manufacturing, and also the new amendments we have given to the chairperson of removing taxes on ambulances, advised that this is the right piece of legislation to amend and we are here with that advice, Mr Speaker.
THE SPEAKER: Honourable members, the matter was procedural. It is imperative that in drafting these laws, we make it easy for people looking for the law to find it. It is always better to have all laws relating to a particular kind of transaction contained in one piece of legislation.
If you are amending the Finance Act and somebody is interested in dealing with issues that relate to that, it would be better for that person to be facilitated to go to that one Act and find everything. This cross reference amendment of laws brings confusion because instead of looking at the Finance Act, you also have to go and look at the Road and Traffic Safety Act and you do not know which other laws to look at.
Therefore, it is problematic for people who want to find a law, do legal research or for other purposes to go and look at the whole spectrum of all the laws to find laws regulating one sector. That procedure has now been adopted in many jurisdictions when they are preparing legislation. The issue is, you need to communicate to the users of the law. If you are incapable of giving that communication clearly, then you are confusing the whole application of the law. Therefore, advice is always given that it is better to house laws in their proper legislation.
However, it is not fatal to do this. The issue is whether it is good practice or just bad manners to keep throwing things in all pieces of legislation and confusing everybody who wants to find the piece of law. That is where we are on this matter. It is not fatal; you can do it but honourable minister, take advice from one of those people whose business it is. I sometimes make money out of drafting laws so I live by drafting laws. It is better and neater to have these things housed in their proper pieces of legislation.
Hon. Kakooza, are you raising the matter because the lights are off? I have just guided on procedure so what procedure do you want?
MR KAKOOZA: Mr Speaker, the work of Parliament is to check the Executive and redeem the image of Parliament. Once they make mistakes, we should check them.
When you look at the External Trade Act, you will find where this ban is supposed to be. Section 8 reads as follows:
“Power of Minister to prohibit or limit imports or exports
(1) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act or any other written law, the Minister may by statutory order prohibit absolutely, or reserve exclusively to any person, the import or export…”
This is where his amendment to the Road and Safety Act should have been placed. When we use the Road and Safety Act, it means Parliament is used to committing mistakes and may be challenged in courts of law. Since you are a custodian of drafting legislation, Mr Speaker, I do not want the image of Parliament tarnished because we have made mistakes and we are challenged as in other cases. This is why I say that the minister should go back and bring a Finance Bill, which we can deal with.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, if you want to amend a series of laws, the proper title of that Bill would be “Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill” because you are amending several pieces of legislation. This Traffic and Road Safety Act (Amendment) Bill is amending Cap. 361, Act 18 of 2013, Act 32 of 2006 – Well, let us proceed.
MR SSEWUNGU: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your guidance. It is very interesting to hear the finance minister, my good friend hon. Bahati, saying that for the amendment he is bringing, he has the defence of the Attorney-General, who is not here. We have always maintained in this Parliament that when you are dealing with legislation, the Attorney-General must be around. I know that our Rules of Procedure do not provide for his mandatory attendance but according to the Constitution it is mandatory because he is the legal advisor of Government.
Mr Speaker, wouldn’t it be procedurally okay for the honourable minister, when he comes from the caucus with the Attorney-General next time, to inform him that we are amending Bills concerning taxes so that he gives us legal advice and we move on instead of having this kind of legislation coming where it does not belong?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, if the Bill is proposed by the Minister of Works and Transport, Engineer Monica Azuba, maybe she can explain this Bill better.
MR BAHATI:Mr Speaker, the Finance Bill, which is being referred to by hon. James Kakooza, is not a stand-alone act. It is an omnibus Bill that we normally use every financial year to cater for things that are not in any specifics on these laws or short term measures that we are using.
When we went to the Attorney-General he clearly said, “No, I want those issues that relate to a specific law to be dealt within that specific law.” Environmental levy is being dealt within the traffic and road safety law and that is what we are amending. We are moving this Bill on behalf of Government and we have instructions to move this Bill –(Interruption)
MS FRANCA AKELLO: Mr Speaker, this matter was brought before the committee by hon. James Kakooza. When hon. David Bahati provided an explanation in the beginning, we were convinced. I am not a lawyer, I must admit. However, what convinced me to proceed to make this provision under the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill is because it has got a lot of implications on taxes.
We are dealing with the environmental tax under the same, we are dealing with banning a certain age of vehicles that has a bit of traffic issues but much of it is because it involves some lossof revenue, which is of a great amount; almost Shs 182 billion. All this is a matter of finance. Personally, I got convinced by that explanation because it was said that these would help in beefing up the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill.
Mr Speaker, I know that it may be a little bit of bad manners to do it here. However, because of the financial implications, I think you will also have to guide relating to that, unless part of it has much more to do with the Road Safety Act.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, let us do this. The motion that we have before us is for this Bill to be read the second time and I have already proposed it.
Honourable members, the motion that is before the House is that the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read the second time. That is the motion that has been brought to the House. Is this motion seconded?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It has been seconded by the Member for Isingiro North, Member for Gomba East and Member for Kamuli Municipality.Would you like to speak to your motion?
MR OKUPA:Mr Speaker, you raised a question to the minister that this Bill is by the Minister of Works and Transport, Eng. Monica Azuba who is not even in the House. However, I am also told that because they were supposed to defend, she did not appear before the committee yet this Bill is hers.
Is it procedurally right for us to continue with a Bill whose minister did not appear before the committee and she is not even in the House today? Are we proceeding rightly?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Bill is for the Government. Therefore, this Bill is properly before this House. I have proposed the question and I now want a report of the committee then we see how to handle this matter.
THE CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MrHenry Musasizi): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your wise guidance on how to proceed with this Bill.
The Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development considered the Bill entitled, “The Traffic and Road Safety Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018” and is now ready to report back to the House.
I would like to straight away present before the House the committee observations:
(i)The East African Business Council engaged East African Community (EAC) partner states through Council of Ministers and decided to harmonise the age limit of vehicles imported into the region by April 2009. Currently, there is no harmonisation on the age of motor vehicles in the EAC states and the used motor vehicles industry is regulated by each member state independently. Kenya restricts the importation of used cars to eight years while Tanzania and Rwanda –(Interruption)
MS NYAKECHO:Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I apologise for interrupting my colleague in the middle of his presentation. I am constrained to move this issue because this Bill is going to make Government lose Shs 182 billion yet we are looking for money right now. I wonder whether we are procedurally correct to move the way we are moving right now.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, a motion has been moved for second reading of a Bill. I have proposed a question and the committee is reporting on the Bill. How could we not be proceeding properly? Please, we are proceeding very well.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Speaker, before I was interrupted, I was on the last point on our observation number one –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Chair, please summarise.
MR MUSASIZI:Two, the used motor vehicle industry comprises of car importers, clearing and forwarding agents, freight forwarders, car bond operators, brokers, spare parts dealers and is interlinked to other sectors like energy, insurance, banking, transport, both directly and indirectly employing people. The total number of people employed in this industry is 11,139.
The implementation of the ban on vehicles of eight years and above will render over 11,000 direct beneficiaries of the industry unemployed.
Three, importation of old vehicles has exposed Uganda to high pollution levels, which pose a high risk to both health and environment.
The cost of disposing of junk cars is also a huge burden to the country. The quality of cars has also been linked to the high incidence of motor accidents in Uganda.
There is also huge haemorrhage of foreign exchange because it is very convenient to import these relatively cheap but poor quality cars, which have very high maintenance costs.
However, environmental pollution is not only caused by emissions from cars. There are other factors like cutting trees, swamp reclamation, emissions from factories and industries. These factors should be addressed alongside the ban on importation of used motor vehicles.
Four, a high prevalence of cheap used cars is a disincentive to investment in motor vehicle assembly industry, which has a wider economic benefit to the country. Kenya and Ethiopia, where the ban was enforced much earlier, have been able to attract credible investors in motor vehicle assembly. The ban on importation of vehicles of eight years and above will help reduce on traffic congestion in the city and also reduce the cost of maintenance of roads.
Five, a high tax regime imposed on new vehicles in Uganda makes new vehicles unaffordable. New vehicles in Uganda pay import duty of 25 per cent, VAT of 18 per cent, infrastructure levy of two per cent, withholding tax of six per cent and registration fees while cars above five years pay environmental levy of 35 per cent and 50 per cent as well.
No alternative has been provided in the tax proposals to discourage Ugandans from buying used vehicles or to make new vehicles affordable. Government should remove environmental levy from imported cars of zero to eight years to make the cars cheaper and implement the ban in a phased manner.
Six, Government is projected to lose Shs 182 billion from the ban of motor vehicles above eight years. Government needs to attract investors into the motor vehicle assembling industry but this should be done with gradual phasing out of used vehicles while encouraging purchase of new vehicles.
Considering the current funding gaps in the budget, the ban should start from 20 years. This will save the Government from the loss of revenue to the tune of Shs 182 billion and also support the proposed revenue to be raised from impositions of Shs 100 on petrol and diesel for road maintenance under the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which we have just passed.
Seven, the East African Customs Treaty puts import duty on motor vehicles at 25 per cent on cost insurance and freight. This makes tax on purchase of new motor vehicles prohibitive. Government should engage with the partner states of the East African Community to reduce import duty on new motor vehicles to 10 per cent on the cost insurance and freight. This will encourage people to purchase new vehicles and save the environment (Applause).
Our recommendations are:
1. The ban on importation of used vehicles be phased from 20 years by reducing the date of manufacture by three years every subsequent year.
2. A comprehensive study be conducted by Government on the impact of motor vehicle emissions on the environment.
3. The Traffic and Safety Act, 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be passed into law, subject to proposed amendments.
I beg to move, Mr Speaker.
I beg to lay on the Table the original report by the committee together with the minutes that evidence the engagements we carried out in processing of the Bill.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, chair. Let the records capture the minutes and also the text of the report of the committee.
Honourable members, I propose the motion for you to debate the principles of this Bill. The overall principle and purpose, as I understand it, even if it is proposed by the Minister of Works and Transport, is to raise some money and also do some regulatory work in terms of what kind of vehicles can be imported. That is the principle we are going to debate and debate starts now.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Winfred Kiiza): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am of the view that the chairperson concedes that we receive this report, sleep over it as we internalise it and debate resumes tomorrow. That is the proposal I would like to make.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:Honourable members, the proposal is for adjournment.
MR VINCENT SSEMPIJJA (NRM, Kalungu County East, Kalungu): I would like to plead with the Members that first of all, this is an old amendment Bill and in view of what is going on these days in terms of accidents, we should handle this issue once and for all. I am just pleading with Members.
MR JACKSON KAFUUZI (NRM, Kyaka County South, Kyegegwa): Mr Speaker, I have listened to the report as presented. For a while, it has been a concern that vehicles that we import are very expensive, especially when it comes to taxes.
However, if it is the intention of Government to encourage us to buy newer vehicles, why don’t they reduce or remove taxes on newer vehicles so that we are encouraged to buy vehicles that are more mechanically sound? Old vehicles attract a lot more taxes and I do not see the Bill addressing the anomaly as it stands. I would propose that they reduce taxes on newer vehicles in order to encourage the public to buy good vehicles.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the Member for Kyaka South has started the debate. Is it the concurrence of the Members that we debate or should I put the question to the motion for second reading and then we deal with the amendments and take a decision?
This is a motion for debating the principles of the Bill. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that we go and study the report and come back. However, it is a Bill of five clauses. I do not know what value we would add by – there are very serious matters?
Honourable members, look at the changes that the committee proposes on the Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill. They propose some amendments in clauses 2, 3 and 5. Would those amendments answer the issues or don’t they answer the issues? If they do, we could go and deal with the recommendations of the committee at committee stage.
MR WAMAKUYU: Mr Speaker, tomorrow is the deadline for the budget and we need to process the revenue aspect and do appropriation. If we sleep over this, at what time are we going to consider it?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, let us debate this briefly because the general debate should be brief and I am going to allow five submissions only. The five will be hon. Lugoloobi, honourable Member for West Budama County North, hon. Sabiiti, honourable Member for Makindye Division West and the Member for Tororo District. Let us take two minutes each.
MR HENRY KIBALYA (NRM, Bugabula County South, Kamuli): Mr Speaker, a few days ago we had a concern over those dealers in vehicles that go beyond the eight years the Bill is proposing. The other time, we were requesting the committee that we could have more time to engage the stakeholders in this business because mere saying the cut-off is this period would not be a problem but the problem is; how many people are going to be affected? How many people are deriving livelihood from that business?
In Uganda, we do not know the time it takes for somebody who has placed an order to have a vehicle imported from whichever country. Other people deposit money and by the time they complete, the two or three months are over. Therefore, when we say that “by July vehicles beyond this period will not be imported”, really it cannot help this nation.
We would propose that we have a timeframe. Let us suggest that by now we reduce by this period and in the coming year some of these vehicles will not be allowed until we help those business people and all those other people that are deriving a livelihood from such a business. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR RICHARD OTHIENO (NRM, West Budama County North, Tororo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I support the committee’s proposal to phase out the importation of old cars from 20 years by three years, annually. However, -(Interjection)- no, first hold on. By the time I finish, I will have cleared it.
Mr Speaker, I remember that some time back the then presiding officer directed that when we handle this particular Bill this time, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development would look into the issue of scrapping environmental levy on the importation of ambulances. However, I am not seeing it in the proposal of the committee yet it was unanimously agreed and directed by the Speaker. Can I get clarification from the committee why the Speaker’s directive was not complied with yet this is a very essential service for Uganda? Thank you.
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, at the committee stage we are making a proposal to exempt ambulances from environmental levy because we do recognise the complimentary role that they play towards improving the healthcare in our country.
MR DENIS SABIITI (NRM, Rubanda County West, Rubanda): Mr Speaker, let me thank the committee for a good report and a good research. New vehicles, with new technology, have improved a lot in fuel consumption. If you compare the fuel consumption of a new vehicle and that of an old vehicle, the consumption of an old vehicle – in some cases – is twice as much. Therefore, this policy of encouraging ownership of new vehicles should be a very welcome policy.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, used vehicles are very expensive to maintain in terms of spares and breakdowns. I would have preferred that the environmental levy is instead increased to discourage the importation of old vehicles because of the drain on the economy of Uganda.
I only slightly defer with the committee’s report on reduction of imported vehicles by three years but I would have taken drastic measures of increasing environmental levy in order to discourage importation and operation of second-hand vehicles because of the inherent costs that are involved. Thank you.
MR ALLAN SSEWANYANA (DP, Makindye Division West, Kampala): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to second the recommendations that have been given to us today but with some amendments and concerns. The committee is recommending that we should put a ban on vehicles which are manufactured beyond 20 years ago. However, when you look at the market of Uganda on the importation of vehicles, we still have vehicles of 30 years and the traders have already ordered for lots of cars in that category. Therefore, it will cause more losses.
I am proposing that we extend from 20 to 32 or 35 years –(Interjection)–because even the cars Members of Parliament here drive are 20 years and beyond. When we go by 20 years, it would be affecting the members of the business society – even if we go by the Shs 182 billion that has been talked about by the committee as a loss to the country when Uganda still needs such monies. We have been here discussing about more taxes to avoid losses as a country.
Therefore, I am proposing that 20 years is still little. We can increase to, probably, beyond 20-30 years for our people to be able to go by that –(Member timed out.)
MS ANNET NYAKECHO (Independent, Tororo North County, Tororo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Indeed, the topic we are debating is controversial. Why am I saying so? First of all, we are looking at the aspect of potential of Government losing money through this same legalisation, which is Shs 182 billion. It may appear little money but given the way we are struggling to look for money right now, it is something.
The second controversial part is the environment Vis-à-vis importation of old vehicles. We are saying that old vehicles destroy the environment. Whereas, we would also be legislating and looking at the potential ways of saving the environment without necessarily discouraging the importation of old vehicles – (Interruption)
MR AOGON:Thank you very much. The information I would like to give to my sister is that when cars gather in Kampala and they check the amount of pollution around the roundabouts, where they are congested, that is where you get to know that environmental issues are serious. The question is, can we take the cars which are old upcountry?
Mr Speaker, cars from 2003 to 2018, could be acceptable for now. However, saying that we should go for new cars; how many people from Kumi can afford to pay for a car of Shs 150 million? A new RAV4 in Toyota Uganda is Shs 210 million. Even if you remove Shs 50 million, it will be Shs 160 million. How many people from Kumi can afford that car unless we are going to discriminate the poor people? That is the information I wanted to give you.
MS NYAKECHO:Thank you, my brother, for the information. You can see where we are going. Mr Speaker, if we looked around this House, how many of us are driving brand new vehicles apart from Hon. Odonga Otto, who is privileged. There is only one Member.
Therefore, as we debate, we should also put – Mr Speaker, I request for your protection. I was saying that as we debate, we should consider Ugandans out there. We have the opportunity to debate and come up with proper legalisation on how to save the environment and raise better money for the Government without necessarily defeating and losing the agenda of the people out there. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Finally, can I have the Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives?
MR ALEX RUHUNDA (NRM, Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.As the Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, I have been forced to debate this matter because both foreign and local traders who deal in cars approached my committee. Here is the crisis, Mr Speaker.
From the statistics, it is shown that the purchasing power of Ugandans as far as vehicles is concerned is low –(Applause)– They cannot afford new cars. What is being proposed means that we are going to see very few cars imported into the country and many people will go unemployed because the vehicle industry is employing very many Ugandans.
Mr Speaker, we could talk more about the policy we have in this country. If you go to other countries, individuals who have assets like cars are given a chance to pay over a period of time; they introduced car loans schemes. In Uganda, a person must look for the whole sum of money in order to acquire a car and this is a crisis, Mr Speaker –(Interruption)
MR KAKOOZA:Thank you, hon. Ruhunda, for giving way. The way this Bill is proposed is that 35 per cent of the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of a motor vehicle, which is a levy – if you are buying a Premio of 2010 Model, you pay Shs 40 million as taxes –(Interjection)– If it is 2000 model, there is 35 per cent from other tax heads and you pay Shs 85 million. This is what they are telling you. You better choose either – If you buy the 2018 model, you will pay Shs 148 million taxes only without a CIF value –
MR RUHUNDA: Thank you very much, for the additional information.
Mr Speaker, my plea is that the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development should study the implications of what they are proposing. As we speak, if you look at the unemployment rate of Uganda – I remember at one point, I stood here on the same Floor of Parliament and said that if we are insensitive in the decisions we make, they will boomerang us.
If you look at the kidnappers, many of them are youthful. They are unemployed, they have tried to look for jobs and they have resorted to pouncing on a few who are active. We should be very careful. That is a fact and I am talking about reality. We must plan for our economy very well while addressing these youthful groups. If you go down to the car dealers, majority of them are youthful guys. I have been out of the country but in those countries, it is the youth who deal in cars.
Therefore, I would like to propose that we allow vehicles that are not more than 25 years. This would be a good middle ground. Mr Speaker, there are those who are arguing –(Member timed out.)
MR ROBERT CENTENARY (FDC, Kasese Municipality, Kasese): Thank you, Mr Speaker. With due respect to the committee, in economics, we look at turnover. If we are trying to realise taxes, it is prudent that we reconsider the age of the vehicles that we import. Sometimes, you can even have a vehicle of 2018 model when it has moved 400,000 kilometres but emits poisonous gasses and fumes into the environment. I am a mechanic; let me demonstrate it for you.
Once the rings of your engines are worn out, it does not matter whether your vehicle is brand new or not; it will emit those gases that are poisonous to the environment. To me, the aspect of the age is far-fetched. If we need to maintain our people in employment, we should look at the people who are dealing in cars. Some of them are young men who have left this country to go out to Japan, Dubai and other countries to deal in cars and the only cars they can afford are those that are not of a newer age. Even as Members of Parliament, there are very few of us who can afford a new vehicle –(Interjection)- I am giving myself as an example. I only acquired a vehicle of 2008 model recently. I have been driving an old car because I could not afford a new car –(Interruption)
MS NAMUGANZA:Thank you, Mr Speaker. As we try to debate about the old or new cars, the language that my colleague hon. Centenary is using of saying that even Members of Parliament – (Interjections)– no, if he cannot afford a new car, he should not generalise about Parliament, saying that we cannot afford new cars. Is it in order, therefore, for hon. Centenary, if he cannot afford a new car, to assume that the rest of the Members of this House cannot afford new cars? Is he in order? (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, order. I was listening carefully, as I always do. The honourable member said very few of these Members here can afford to buy new cars –(Applause)– so he did not generalise. He said very few and the very few could be myself. (Laughter)
MR CENTENARY:Let me conclude because I know the type of car which my honourable colleague drives. It is a Noah Model 1991. That means that she is also in that bracket of the very few. The only brand new vehicle that my colleague can drive is the one of the Minister of States for Lands, which has been bought by Government because Government has the purchasing power. (Laughter) However, as an individual, it is not easy for everyone to afford –(Interruption)
MS NAMUGANZA:I am sorry, Mr Speaker, but I would not like hon. Centenary to stand here and inform this august House and the people who are watching us that I do not have a personal car and that what I drive is for the ministry. Hon. Centenary, I have my own car. Are you in order to misinform the House? (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order. Honourable members, please. Hon. Centenary, now you know that hon. Princess Namuganza has her own car. (Laughter)
MR CENTENARY:I actually said she has a Noah. I did not say she does not own a car but I said she has a Noah. That aside, when we are legislating here, we are legislating for the welfare of Ugandans. The moment we crowd out a certain category of people – actually, people even use some of these vehicles to transport passengers, especially in our villages and including our ambulances. They use them as a source of employment.
The moment we say these vehicles should be stopped, it is being unfair to Ugandans. What I would propose is that Government should institute a mechanism of inspecting vehicles; see their road worthiness and conformity so that the environmental aspect is one of those features that are considered during the inspection.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Winfred Kiiza): Mr Speaker, a lot has been said. I will simply take it up from where hon. Centenary stopped. There is an issue that was being discussed here regarding a report of SGS that the Member was talking about.
Mr Speaker, it was not concluded. You know what happened. It was not concluded, meaning that we are not even committed to ensuring that our vehicles are inspected and in good conditions to move on our roads. We are all concerned about the road carnage. Indeed, it could be true that part of the reasons why the carnage is so high is because of the type of vehicles that we have. It is very true.
However, like many Members have said, let us not be blinded and mind to the realities of our lives. The reality, like many Members have said, is that our population cannot afford the first-hand vehicles. A Member mentioned – actually hon. Jackson Kafuuzi – that if we want our population to begin affording the first-hand vehicles, let us, at this moment, talk about reducing taxes on new vehicles. When we start reducing taxes on new vehicles, automatically people like my sister, hon. Persis Namuganza, will afford and they will begin going for them and stop driving Noahs. (Laughter)
For now, even the money provided by Parliament to enable Members of Parliament to drive vehicles is not enough to purchase a new vehicle. This means even our own Members would still like to get the services of the used vehicles. By the way –(Interruption)
MR SSEWUNGU:Thank you, Leader of the Opposition, for giving way. Mr Speaker, I would like to give information. In Japan, there is an organisation of Ugandans called Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre Company Ltd (JEVIC) stationed in Japan to find out, whether before you bring any vehicle in Uganda, they have any environmental impact on the country. Before that vehicle is imported, if it comes without any clearance from JEVIC, it will be impounded at the borders of Uganda.
Secondly, as I conclude my information, I would like to inform hon. Musasizi that the issue of traffic cannot arise. In 2005, when we were demolishing Shimon Demonstration School, some of the movers of the motion said that they wanted to remove children from Shimon because they were causing traffic jam in Kampala. That school was removed but up to now, traffic jam is still in Kampala. Can you tell me how much traffic jam you have in Rubanda that makes you support removing these old vehicles? That is the information I would like to give.
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Thank you, Mr Speaker –(Interruption)
MR ODONGA OTTO: The information I am seeking from the Leader of the Opposition is, since she also sits on the Parliamentary Commission, whether the minister can tell us; now that this law is coming, whether there will be a top up on the money they gave us for the vehicles –(Laughter)– because we now need new vehicles. (Laughter)
That now means out of the other one, you may have to add another Shs 450 million to buy new vehicles. I hope you have a Certificate of Financial Implication to that effect. That is the information I was giving. Otherwise, we are very willing to receive that additional money. (Laughter)
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Thank you very much, hon. Odonga Otto. The information actually came in form of a question, Mr Speaker, and was directed to us as Members of the Parliamentary Commission, where I am privileged to sit. What I can possibly say is that the assumption of the Parliamentary Commission is that you have already procured the vehicles and, therefore, they will not be affected by the new tax. The exception is for the Members who will come in after this law is put in place, if it ever happens, and maybe those who will come in, in terms of by-elections.
That is the assurance that the minister has to give to the Members that when they come after that, you will also factor that into consideration. However, when you factor it into consideration, you are not going to have a different rate of payment for the new arrivals and have a different rate of payment for the early arrivals. What hon. Otto is also putting into perspective comes back to us as a Commission.
However, we still want to say that we can talk about environmental protection and also ensure that emissions are not remitted into the atmosphere by the old vehicles by ensuring that our people who have vehicles – by the way, there may be someone who has a new vehicle, as new as 2015, but as long as they do not take good care of the vehicle, it would still emit gas. (Applause) We shall still have the consequences as if they are from an old vehicle –(Interruption)
MR KAMUSIIME:Thank you, my honourable colleague. The information I would like to give is that it is not only from vehicles that we get effects on our environment. We have to look at other avenues on how we can best maintain our environment. Environment is life. Let us look at our swamps, wetlands, forests and everything else so that we do not turn this burden to a small section of the people helping our community to move on.
MS WINFRED KIIZA: Mr Speaker, time and again, we have been encouraging our communities to plant trees. The intention of tree planting is so that if there is emission into the atmosphere, they can absorb the dangerous gases and make proper use of them and to keep our atmosphere clean. This has not been fully backed by Government to make sure that if you cut one tree, you plant two as it was before.
However, we are now hurrying with the old cars. I may say it is not necessarily the old cars – even when you say at importation, it may not necessarily stop the vice because already, these cars are with us. We shall continue driving the ones we have until they clock 50 years. They will still emit gas in the atmosphere because we are not going to make any transfers.
As we look at ways of controlling the atmosphere, can we find the best alternatives? Let us plant more trees. Let us encourage our planners not to go into wetland. We are now talking about protecting the environment but we are also busy building or giving building plans in wetlands and allowing those manufacturing Kaveeras to continue. We are busy buying more teargas and emitting it in the atmosphere. (Laughter) Those are some of the things which spoil our environment.
We also need to take good care of those other issues. Otherwise, Mr Speaker, the industry is helping to control the levels of unemployment. Therefore, like many have said, we would not also want to leave it open-ended. We would still want to have some level of caution taken; 25 years would be okay so that those who can afford-
We are not discouraging people from buying new models or vehicles.As we plan to remove taxes on the new vehicles, let us also in a phased manner as proposed by the chairperson, go on reducing on the consumption and possibly importation of used vehicles. People are driving them not because they want, but due to the condition imposed on us. We would all like to be in very new vehicles – the same applies to a person going for a second hand cloth. It is not that they do not want to buy new clothes and cars, but it is the circumstances that force them to go for the used vehicles even when they would want to be the first owners of the vehicles.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, the Tenth Parliament, through this Bill, has been given an opportunity to make an important decision towards saving this environment. You have chosen to defer it. On the amendments Members have been talking about, it is very important to know the environment is being degraded. We also know that the pollution coming from the vehicles is real but we have chosen to defer. Therefore, the records should note this for the future –(Interruption)
MR SSEWUNGU:Mr Speaker, we are here debating because of the proposal they are giving. Within their proposals, they exempted lorries and coasters of 1989 and 1990 which produce more fumes than these vehicles we are talking about. When we were deliberating, we gave a number of reasons why we are against this amendment and I was on the floor here saying that there is even-
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:Honourable member, give the point of order.
MR SSEWUNGU:I am giving the point of order. So, I talked about Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre Company Limited (JEVIC). Is the minister in order to say that this House is against this amendment because we would like to continue spoiling our environment, and yet we are giving justification why we are saying this kind of amendment should not arise?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: He is simply restating the purpose of this Bill. That is what this Bill is saying.
MR BAHATI:So, Mr Speaker, I would like the House again to consider this issue of 20 or 25 years. Think about the 20 years really; 20 years is a very long time; you would produce a kid, the kid goes to the university and even gets married.
Therefore, we wanted to suggest that if we can have a middle ground of 15 years, then this House can also help us to lock it so that we do not have to come to this House again. Maybe, every four years, we can keep reducing years until we save the environment.
The environment is very important, friends. Thank you –(Interruption)
MR OLANYA:Thank you, honourable minister for giving way. You realise that currently, we are importing more than 4,000 vehicles in a month. If you multiply 4,000 vehicles by 12 months – Honourable minister, I really feel we should reduce the years to 10. Let us reduce the number of vehicles coming into the country. If you go to buy vehicles from these bonds, there are other vehicles which are extremely old. You find someone coming from the village is given that vehicle and it moves for less than one month. It is consuming our people’s money for nothing.
Therefore, honourable minister, let us reduce the years to 10.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, we will go and sort out this matter at the committee stage. I now put the question to the motion that the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read the second time.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE TRAFFIC AND ROAD SAFETY ACT 1998 (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
MR MUSASIZI:On Clause 1, Mr Chairperson, we propose that the title be deleted and substituted with the following:
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Clause one?
MR MUSASIZI: Yes, the Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Justification is to correct the drafting error.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No, we are talking about clause 1.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairman, I would like to correct the anomaly. Our proposal is in the title and not in clause 1. Therefore, I withdraw my proposal on clause 1.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, I put the question that clause 1 stands part of the Bill?
(Question put and agreed to.)
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairman, we propose to amend clause 2 as follows:
(i)By deleting the headnote and substituting the following “Amendment of the traffic and road safety Act cap 361.”
(ii)By deleting the words “eight years” appearing in the proposed section 14A and substituting the words “twenty years.” (Applause)
(iii)By deleting the words “six tons” appearing in the proposed section 14A (b) and substituting the words “half a ton.”
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: 14 what?
MR MUSASIZI: By deleting the words “six tons”
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: In which clause?
MR MUSASIZI: This is 14A (b).
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: There is nothing like that. 14A (2) (b); therefore it is not 14 (b).
MR MUSASIZI: 14A (2) (b), by deleting the words “six tons” appearing in the proposed section 14A (2) (b) and substituting the words “half a ton.”
(iv)By deleting the words “five years” appearing in the proposed section 14B and substituting the words “nine years.”
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: 14B for which sub clause?
MR MUSASIZI: Sub clause (1).
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: You need to mention the sub clause for the record so that we know.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, we propose to amend clause 2(14B) (1) by deleting the words “five years” appearing in the proposed section 14B and substituting it with the words “nine years.”
(a)is to correct a drafting error
(b)Is to allow room to develop the public transport system as the age of manufacture of vehicles is gradually brought down.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Honourable members, you have these proposals of amendment in – first of all in the headnote and then there is section 14A (1) and 14A(2) (b) and then 14B (1). Those are the amendments proposed by the committee. Can we handle them?
MR KASULE:Mr Chairman, we cannot do two or three things at the same time. Now we are moving forward and at the same time moving backwards. We have been moving on the environmental levy gradually and secondly this is a Bill for revenue collection.
Therefore, I would like to propose, now that they have not yet reached the age limit for the vehicles and we are dealing with environmental levy – we are disagreeing with Government on the age limit of the vehicle but at the same time supporting the environmental levy. Therefore, let us stay the five years on environmental levy then we vary the years. I therefore propose that we stay the five years as environmental levy.
Lastly, this environmental levy brings in around Shs 32 to 34 billion. Therefore, if we removed it backwards that means we are going to book the revenue backwards and at the same time-(Interruption)
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: I would like to support the committee. When they talk of 20 years, they are referring to model 1998. When you go in the schedule, they are telling you that the CIF value of a vehicle of model 1998 – for example, could be about $20,000. You would pay extra 35 per cent CIF value on that vehicle.
The question members have been asking is, if we increase the taxes, Import Duty, VAT and Withholding Tax, will people manage to pay? Therefore, the committee is saying that if you want to make steady progress, you reduce the years progressively. For example, if the CIF value is 35 per cent for model 1998; you are going to pay extra money of Shs 20 million.
Therefore, that is why in this Bill, the committee is proposing to go with 1998 model to be the benchmark; because we pay more for older models.
MR KASULE:Okay. Now, thank you for the information much as it was driving me backwards. However, what I was saying is, let us stay the proposal for five years on environmental levy then we juggle the other lifetime of the vehicle. Otherwise, if we moved both then we will be driving in the opposite direction and will not help ourselves on the many cancers in this country yet many people complain about them.
Let us insist on the environmental levy –(Interruption)
MR MUSASIZI:Thank you hon. Kasule, for giving way. I would like to give you this clarification. The debate here is banning on two vehicles; old vehicles vis-à-vis the cost of new vehicles. As we gradually come to the new vehicles, there should be a subsidy on the new vehicles. Therefore, when you say a subsidy in term of taxes hon. Okupa, when you say that we impose environmental tax on new vehicles that implies that the cost of new vehicles is going to be very high.
At the same time, you are saying you do not want importation of old vehicles. We are suggesting as a win – win situation, we start from somewhere; 20 years is our proposal and then look at the possibility of making new cars affordable such that we encourage our people to start buying new vehicles. This is why the environmental levy should not touch only vehicles of five year; but we should extend to eight years such that a vehicle of say model 2011 can also benefit from this arrangement.
MR BAHATI:We wanted to convince the House to maintain because as we speak now a vehicle from 0 to five years does not have an environmental levy.
The committee wants to increase the years from 0 to eight years and yet we are proposing that vehicles of six to 10 years pay 35 per cent of the environmental levy and then 11 years and above pay 50 per cent.
The committee is proposing 0 to eight years but you cannot have it in both ways. You cannot want new cars but at the same time increase taxes on the old cars.
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Honourable minister, the committee is proposing basing on the cost of the vehicle imported and depending on model. If it is 2011 and the extra environmental levy of 30 per cent is added on import duty, there is the VAT value and the withholding tax. You are going to pay more for a vehicle of 2011.
The committee is proposing that of all the agreed taxes these are; import duty, withholding tax, VAT, excise duty, infrastructure levy you are adding more and people will not afford. They are asking you to start from model 1998.
MR BAHATI:Thank you, very much, hon. Kakooza James I wish you had signed the report of the committee because what the committee’s report says is different from what you are suggesting.
The committee is proposing that cars from 0 to eight years do not have to pay the environmental levy but we are insisting on 0 to five years because it is reasonable for a new vehicle.
Then nine to 14 years to pay 35 per cent and then 15 and above pay 50 per cent. We are proposing that cars from 0 to five years do not pay environmental levy because those vehicles are new.
The underlying principle here is to try as much as possible to make a contribution to saving our environment and instead of 20 let us have 15 years as a middle ground. Thank you very much.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the first proposal is in 14A, where the proposal in the Bill is eight years. The committee is proposing 20 years. The minister has now left eight years and is proposing 15 years –
Honourable members, when they come to process what we have decided they will look at the record and if you are not speaking on record nobody will know that you said anything. So whatever you are saying outside the microphone is immaterial.
Do not ever go out claiming that you proposed anything when you were not on record. The proposals that are on record are three.
One in the Bill which is eight years, the one proposed by the committee which is 20 years and the one now that the minister is adjusting to 15 years.
I am assuming that it is the minister who has proposed this Bill now, he has adjusted this position and so eight years is no longer in consideration. The numbers that are in consideration are 15 and 20 and the honourable minister has moved from eight to 15 years.
However, the committee has stayed at 20, can we make a compromise so that we move. This is a one year thing if it fails we shall review it next year.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairman, looking at the mood in the House and also considering that the minister has accepted to move from his position of eight to 15 years as a way of building consensus we would also like to achieve harmony of 15 years.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Please we are dealing with one issue at a time. Can I put the question to this proposed new amendment to change from eight to 15 years?
(Question put and agreed to.)
We now come to 14A (2) (b); at least “six tonnes” the committee is proposing “half a ton”.
MR BAHATI:Mr Chairman, a half a ton is not even a small pickup. In the spirit of consensus we can move from six to four tonnes, it is a reasonable volume which is like a FUSO or a tipper instead of a saloon car. A half ton is like a saloon car which will be confusing. Thank you.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairman, this proposal is intended to take care of goods vehicles which are not saloon cars. We have got pickups, Datsuns, or Saharas which work in many people’s farms and help to carry charcoal. Some people from my place use these vehicles to do trade and they even use them to transport people from different points in the rural areas.
I plead with my elder brother, since I conceded on the first one; I would like to persuade him to concede on this one for the purposes of moving forward. To take care of the pickups which we use at our farms and day to day work.
MR BAHATI:Mr Chairman, let us continue in that spirit because that is what we have here this afternoon. Half a ton is very confusing; people can use a small car and confuse it as a goods car but one can easily tell a four-ton vehicle as a goods car. Therefore, a personal car can now be confused as a goods car and that is the situation we are in. That is why we are saying that four tonnes would be very good – Yes, hon. Elijah, you seem to be in a spirit of win-win. (Laughter)
MR OKUPA:Yes, I am in a win-win spirit. However, from the explanation the minister has given, I am convinced that we need to adjust from the half-ton. There is a tendency of people abusing these figures, like the minister has said, confusing a saloon car with a goods car. We have seen in some areas, especially in the rural ones where a vehicle, which is not supposed to be cars for goods, is being used for transportation.
Therefore, we need to adjust by increasing the 0.5 but also reduce what the minister is talking about and bring it mid-way. We can take two tonnes for a goods car. You even see vehicles used to ferry cement – (Interruption)
MR JAMES KAKOOZA: Thank you, hon. Okupa. Nobody can confuse a saloon car with a two-tonne car because each heavy car is classified; there is what we call an HSN code (Harmonised System Nomenclature). The nomenclature of that vehicle, once it is imported, is classified so nobody can confuse that this is a saloon car and this is a pick-up. In HSN code when they are entered and you import it you will find out that it is already classified. There is no confusion in that so long as you declare the tonnes then it falls in the category of classification.
MR OKUPA:Hon. Kakooza, you know very well that you were at one time a clearing agent and you know how people used to dodge taxes. When you bring a 14-seater minibus without seats, it has a different levy from a 14-seater taxi without chairs. They use that to abuse it because that is what is provided by the HSN Code of the customs book.
What we are trying to avoid is that people can use that to abuse or dodge taxes. It is from that background that I am raising this because I know that you and I have that background of how people take advantage of it. Thank you.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, this is for transportation of goods with a gross vehicle weight of at least – “gross” means it includes the weight of the vehicle so having a vehicle that is about half a ton, then it might be a bicycle. (Laughter)Therefore, we are not talking about the net weight of the cargo but the gross weight including the vehicle. What is reasonable? Even that 120 that you are talking about is more than a ton in gross weight – is it two tonnes? Yes, that is its gross weight.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, with your interpretation and guidance –
THE CHAIRPERSON: No, that is what it is stating; I have not interpreted anything. It is talking about gross weight.
MR MUSASIZI:With your input –
THE CHAIRPERSON: No, with what the law is stating. (Laughter)
MR MUSASIZI: With what the law is stating, I would like to propose that we go by at least three tonnes.
THE CHAIRPERSON: The minister has agreed to four.
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairperson, I concede.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the amendment is four tonnes gross weight. I put the question to that amendment.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE CHAIRPERSON: The next one is on Clause 14B (1) and that is where we had this lengthy debate from the committee’s proposal to change “five” to “eight”. Can I put the question to this?
MR BAHATI:Mr Chairperson, remember in the previous clause we have amended to 15 and the structure the committee has proposed will cost us a revenue shortfall of Shs 35 billion if we increase from zero to eight. We have been at five that it means that all those vehicles, which have been paying 35 percent from five to eight, will now not pay the money. That will be revenue foregone of Shs 35 billion.
Also given the fact that we have moved up to – this is empirical – we have capped it at 15 years, I would like to plead that we could agree as a House to maintain what we have; zero to five, six to ten and eleven and above. What the committee is proposing after that is that for 50 per cent, it states 15 and above. However, remember we no longer have 15 and above.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that we maintain the way it is and we reserve this revenue which we desperately need.
MS FRANCA AKELLO: Mr Chairperson, I would like to seek clarification from the minister before the chairperson comes in. Honourable minister, your fear is the loss of about Shs 35 billion, but the House and the committee has saved you that difference of five years. I do not know if you made a calculation because I would assume that that would leave you with at least over a billion shillings.Instead of Shs 182, you would be left with much more money than what you fear to lose.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, the proposal is to move from five to eight years and attract 35 per cent of the environmental levy. Whereas I do not have time to do this computation, I am not convinced, and I want to put this on record, that when we forego this proposal Government will raise revenue amounting to Shs 35 billion. My justification is that most of our population buy old vehicles and that is where much revenue is generated – maybe if you want to give me information about the taxes which were previously collected –
MR KASULE: Mr Chairperson, this five per cent has been pertaining so there is empirical evidence.
THE CHAIRPERSON: There is no five per cent anywhere.
MR KASULE:I meant that five years has been used so the minister has information – that is what he is saying – we are taking it from him that he has been generating about Shs 35 billion because of the current years. Therefore, it has been contained and it is not a new clause. We have been historically passing these environmental levies.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:Honourable members, I will put the question on the amendments as proposed by the committee from five to eight years. I am putting the question on the eight years.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:Is there any other amendment on clause 2?
MR BAHATI: We wanted to get it clear, Mr Chairperson, that we have to adjust the percentage to mean that from nine and above, we can put it at 50 per cent because 11 will not be there. We are saying if the House has said 0-8 nil, then nine and above 50 per cent.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:Where is that?
Clause 2, as amended
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:I now put the question that clause 2 as amended stands part of the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairperson, Clause 3 is amended by deleting the words “subsection (2)” and substituting the words “section 2”. The justification is to correct the drafting error.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:I put the question to that.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4, agreed to.
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairperson, we propose that the proposed fourth schedule be deleted and substituted with the following:
(i) (a)A motor vehicle which is less than eight years from the date of manufacture; excluding goods vehicles- Nil
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Where is that?
MR MUSASIZI:(b). A motor vehicle which is nine years old but which does not exceed – Mr Chairman, this was prior to the amendments the House made. Therefore, I would like to read it as follows; a motor vehicle, which is nine years old and above; excluding goods vehicles- we put it at 50 per cent.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: It is there already.
MR MUSASIZI:I would like to propose that if we pass (b) we delete (c) – A motor vehicle which is fifteen years old but does not exceed twenty years. Mr Chairperson, this becomes redundant since the House has passed that vehicles of 16 years and above be banned, therefore, we do not need this category.
MS FRANCA AKELLO: I wanted to propose that instead of levying environmental tax of 50 per cent on years 9 to 14, it should be 35 per cent then 50 per cent on 15 and above. I beg, Mr Chairperson.
MR MUSASIZI:Hon. Franca, the spirit upon which we are moving is that- first, we want to help Government raise revenue. Secondly, we previously agreed that we subsidize the new vehicles. Therefore, since we have lost a significant amount of money on the newer vehicles, it is better we recover the loss on the slightly older vehicles and therefore, I would like to invite the House to support our proposal of imposing 50 per cent environmental levy on vehicles of nine years and above.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Can I put the question on that? Honourable members, you cannot have your cake and eat it. We have made adjustments from five to eight years and brought the age to 15. Therefore, there is need to make some adjustments here.
Can I put the question to this? I put the question to the amendments as proposed by the committee.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: However, I have a technical problem because in clause 5, you are saying the principal Act is amended. Which is the principal Act? For purposes of clarity, because we are amending three principal Acts- which ones are we talking about in clause 5? Is it obvious; is it by interpretation that the principal Act refers to this Act, the Act whose name appears here?
This law is amending three different Acts. Maybe the technical people will help us with this at the- it will be a consequential consideration to that so that we understand which Act we are talking about, because if we are amending several Acts, then it is better to specify it here than say the principal Act. Are we together?
MR OKUPA:Honourable minister, you see there has been a concern especially from the Ugandans in Diaspora. Some of them have owned cars and in the previous regime, if you have owned a car and you have been with it for more than two years, when you are returning home, you do not pay tax.
However, now with this new change, where you have these Ugandans in the Diaspora and those in our Missions and those doing kyeyo and they own cars outside there, if they happen to be more than 15 years what happens when they are returning home? I just need that clarified because we have been getting those messages from Ugandans in the Diaspora. Do they abandon those cars there or we still give them room when they are returning home?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: What it means, is that when they are coming home, they will need to come with the newer cars than come with what now we – by this law, would be considered basically vehicles that are not fit for purpose of use in this country. That is what it is saying.
Therefore, they will have to make adjustments that when you are preparing to go home, you need to leave the old car where you live and come with the new.
Can I now put the question? What is the principal Act? Can we have it inserted because this Bill is amending three Acts? Can you propose that amendment?
MR BAHATI: We propose that 5 – is it the heading?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No. it is not the heading. It is the first paragraph.
MR BAHATI:The first paragraph, the Financial Act, 2006 is amendment by immediately after the second schedule, the following schedules.
MR MUGOYA:Mr Chairman, you know, we cannot now talk about the Finance Act of 2006 when we have the Finance Act of 2013? Yes. I think we need to cause a correlation of how to come up precisely and concisely, how we frame that provision of the law.
This is where I am finding even a problem. What we are debating today was brought under the Finance Act of 2013 because that one touched basically three areas:
1.There was revision of motor vehicle and motorcycle registration fee.
2.There was also the amendment of the Traffic and Road Safety Act under section 31. That is why we need to be very precise and specific on this matter.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: That is what we are trying to do because both laws unfortunately remain in force.
MR MUGOYA: Much obliged.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Both the Acts of 2013 and the one of 2006 are still in force.
MR MUGOYA:Much obliged. The contention, Mr Chairman, is how do we cite the law? Do we still cite it as “The Finance Act, 2006 as amended” or “The Finance Act, 2013”? I think we go with the one of 2013.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: It depends on which one, you are amending.
MR MUGOYA: In essence, they are amending the one of 2013?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Yes, then you have to be clear about that. If that is the one you are amending then let us capture it.
MR BAHATI: We are amending The Finance Act, 2006.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: It would now read “The Finance Act, 2006 is amended by adding immediately after the second schedule the following schedules”. That is what it is saying. Can I put the question to that?
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 5, as amended
MR BAHATI:Mr Chairman, sorry for this. I had two simple amendments in the fourth schedule(c) we are amending as a consequential amendment, a motor vehicle which is nine years old or more, because that is the consequential amendment and we have already passed it.
The second is to include on fourth schedule, an amendment (d)-
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I thought (c) was deleted?
MR BAHATI: No, it was not because this is a different category.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No. You said from zero to eight years, there is no tax and in (b) you said from nine to 15 years, it is 50 per cent tax.
MR BAHATI: This is a different category of a vehicle designed to carry goods.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
MR BAHATI:The amendment I am bringing, honourable colleagues, is that fourth schedule (d),”a motor vehicle –
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: What is in (c)? Does it remain as it is?
MR BAHATI: Yes, we only adjust nine years. (d) a motor vehicle which is an ambulance and is five years old but does not exceed eight years from the date of manufacture, the tax is nil.
The justification is that the number of years should be limited to ensure good quality of ambulances that will not break down while transporting patients.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Can I put the question to that?
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Any further amendment on clause.
I now put the question that clause 5, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
MR MUSASIZI:Mr Chairman, we propose that the title be deleted and substituted with the following, “The Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018”.
The justification is to correct a drafting error.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No, you see there are a series of those laws in force. Now, you are saying there is the one of 1998, there is the one of 2013 and there is the one of 2006. If you put it, which one are you talking about?
That is why it is important to leave the year there because it is not only one.
MR MUSASIZI: Mr Chairman, I withdraw my proposal.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Wait. The one of – these are finance Acts, sorry, The Traffic and Road Safety – there is only one Act which is of 1998. In which case, it would not be that way because the laws were revised in 2000. That is why it is now Cap 361 so it can no longer be 1998. That cannot be a reference.
The Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018 would be correct then. I put the question to that amendment.
(Question put and agreed to.)
The Title, as amended
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I now put the question that the title to the Bill, as amended, stands as a title to the Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
The Title, as amended, agreed to.
MOTION FOR THE HOUSE TO RESUME
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Chairman, I beg to move that the House do resume and the Committee of the whole House reports there to.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the motion is for resumption of the House to enable the Committee of the whole House report. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
(The House resumed, the Deputy Speaker presiding.)
REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to report that the Committee of the whole House has considered the Bill entitled, “The Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018” and passed it with amendments.
Mr Speaker, I had not seen a different statement from you when –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, that amendment is part of the amendment. The Bill we have handled is this Bill.
MOTION FOR ADOPTION OF THE REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the report from the Committee of the whole House be adopted.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:Honourable members, the motion for the adoption of the report of the Committee of the whole House. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE TRAFFIC AND ROAD SAFETY ACT (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2018
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati):Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled, “The Traffic and Road Safety Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018” be read a third time and do pass.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion is that the Traffic and Road Safety Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be read a third time and do pass. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
The Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED “THE TRAFFIC AND ROAD SAFETY ACT 1998(AMENDMENT) ACT, 2018”
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Congratulations, honourable minister.(Interjection)No, I am going to other items.We had altered the Order Paper to allow some statements to be made. The Sugar Bill will be handled at a later stage. We had already amended the Order Paper to accommodate some statements. One was from hon. Nandala-Mafabi but I do not see him here. There is one from the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Can we receive the brief statement?
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Winfred Kiiza): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am making this statement under Rule 52 (1) of our Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, at around 6.30 p.m. Police arrested one of my staff, Ms Sylvia Bugembe, an Office Assistant in the office of the Leader of the Opposition and detained her at the Central Police Station (CPS) where she stayed for a whole night.
The staff, Sylvia Bugembe received a call, just like many people call us in our offices for services. The caller identified himself as hon. Dr Amona from the NRM Secretariat and he said that he needed help delivering documents to hon. Twinamasiko Onesmus, which the latter needed to deliver on the Floor of the House.
The staff said that since that was a matter involving a high level officer at a party secretariat, she would not be able to make a decision and so she deferred the matter to her supervisor. She called her supervisor, Mr Moses Kyaligonza, and he attended to the call.
Mr Kyaligonza said that the caller had said he had documents and he was actually at the reception. He instructed Sylvia to go and receive the documents and ensure they were delivered to the Member.
Mr Kyaligonza told the caller on the other end of the line, assuming that it is hon. Dr Amona who needed help from our office – actually the first question was, “Why didn’t you call someone from the Government Chief Whip’s office or someone from the Leader of Government Business office?” The caller insisted and claimed that he had tried their numbers but they did not pick and that was why he had resorted to calling the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Kyaligonza reasoned that since we all work for the same institution, he offered to send the caller a member of staff to go and assist him. The man asked if he could get the staff’s mobile number so that he could keep engaging her. Mr Kyaligonza accordingly gave the caller the staff’s mobile number so that when the staff goes out to pick the documents, he can call her on the mobile number.
Unknown to Mr Kyaligonza and Sylvia, the caller on the other side was engaged in a WhatsApp conversation with hon. Onesmus. He had told the honourable that he is called hon Mbaju Jackson, and that he was out of the country but that his driver had a problem and he wanted hon. Onesmus to help him sort that issue.
Now, the hon. Onesmus on the chat talked to the man on the other side and said, “Honourable, I do not have any money on mobile money.” But the other gentleman insisted and asked if he could send someone to pick the Shs 100,000 that the Member had said he could afford. So he promised to send someone.
Since he had received Sylvia’s number, he said, “I am sending a clerk to come and pick the money from you” and he gave in Sylvia’s number which he had been given when he paraded himself as Dr Omona. He tells hon. Onesmus to go and meet the staff at the reception.
Sylvia went out of the office knowing she was going to get documents from Dr Amona to bring them to hon. Onesmus who was supposed to present those issues on the Floor of the House.
On arriving at the reception, she received a telephone call from hon. Onesmus who asked her where she was. The girl said, “I am here”. When hon. Onesmus saw the person appearing, he had deduced that he was being conned because he says he had seen hon. Mbaju in the canteen and he was aware that hon. Mbaju was not out of the country.
He knew that there was someone who was trying to con him and he wanted to know the one who was coordinating with the con-people. So he came with police to arrest the person who would receive the money. The other girl came to receive documents. Meanwhile, the hon. Onesmus is ordered to give the lady money to go and pass over to the conman.
The girl was arrested and taken to CID of Parliament before she was even given an opportunity to make a statement she is rushed to CPS where she spent a night.
Mr Speaker, what perturbed me most is that an officer of Parliament was arrested by our own security, she was not even given chance to explain the circumstances that led to the situation in which she found herself.
She was rushed to CPS, sleeps there without the Clerk of Parliament knowing, without the Sergeant at Arms knowing and without informing even me, the person she works for, that my staff has committed a felony and therefore has been taken to police.
As if that was not enough, the lady tried to explain that she was doing her work like she has always done. Receiving a telephone call that came in and a member of the society is asking for help from Parliament which was within the confines of her duties and she decided to go and assist. She even had someone who had gotten involved in the matter and the staff, a Principal Senior Analyst, says, “I am even the person who gave those people the girl’s number. Therefore this girl has nothing to do with deceiving. I thought I was helping a member of the public to get assistance from Parliament.” However, no body was willing to listen to that.
Mr Speaker, when I received the matter, it was around 8.30 a.m. I think they tried to negotiate but this girl had been whisked to CPS. They used hon. Onesmus’ vehicle to take her to CPS. They abandoned her there. They could not allow her to speak to her relatives and even the staff she was with could not speak to her. She was treated as a high level criminal.
We are all duty bound to ensure that we lessen crime and we are all ready and willing to cooperate to make sure that criminals are arrested and are dealt with accordingly. The unfortunate bit is that security at Parliament – which is our own security – goes to an extent of going outside Parliament before it even takes due regard to the members of the area they are supposed to protect.
Mr Speaker, in my interaction with the officers who were dealing with the matter, I realised three things:
1.The security of Parliament, which is supposed to be under the control of the Sergeant-at-Arms, is taken away from him. We are proud of the police at Parliament and thank them for the work they do but I thought that if anything is supposed to happen around Parliament – at least an arrest of that manner – the Sergeant-at-Arms should have been informed.
2.To take a staff from Parliament, the Clerk should be informed.
3.The clerk was arrested from my office and I should have been informed so that I could help with the issues of police.
Mr Speaker, the other issue is that I do not know what criteria are followed in deployment at Parliament and I would like the Ministry of Internal Affairs to explain this to us. The one in charge of police here – the commandant – is Superintendent of Police (SP) Annabella, whom I called immediately and wanted to get her assistance in regard to a staff of Parliament.
Annabella was rude. She did not want to entertain any issues from anybody. To add to the issue, the girl was looked at as a criminal and was deemed fit to go to the Kampala Central Police Station. I said fine but, can we know under what circumstances? She kept saying: “Ask Katto. Katto is the one who arrested her.”
I realised that Katto, who is commanded by Annabella, is higher in rank than Annabella. Katto is a Commissioner of Police and Annabella is a Superintendent of Police. Don’t they take regard of the ranking when they are deploying people? This is because I realised that Annabella fails to give Katto orders and Katto finds trouble in reporting to Annabella.
Mr Speaker, the other issue that perturbs me is that it looks like at any time anybody can be picked from this House without anybody’s knowledge. We need, as a House, to come out clearly and say we have a police unit for purposes of handling our issues internally. When a matter has gone out of hand, that is when I would imagine it can go to those other levels that are above Parliament.
For a staff of Parliament to be whisked from Parliament before she even makes a statement! She slept at the police cell without a statement. The statement was made in the morning. I found it rather discomforting and disturbing.
In the process, the image of the staff was tainted because when they arrested her, the issue was “we have arrested a con woman” and I am told now the pictures of this lady are all over social media, portraying her as a con woman and people should be aware of this woman – “she works in the office of the Leader of the Opposition and she is a con woman”.
The lady is at pain. She doesn’t know whether she should continue receiving calls that are not internal and it is making work a little hard for me in the office in terms of how my staff will continue working with the Members of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I have known Sylvia Bugembe and I have worked with her for eight year, even before I became the Leader of the Opposition. Sylvia Bugembe is a professional, mature in her approach, humble and an honest woman. She is mother of two, God-fearing and she has always done her work diligently.
It is unfortunate that as she was trying to do her work, she did it with wrong people. I thought the police at Parliament would be able to understand and find a way of following up on these criminals because later on I was told that the number of this particular criminal has been mentioned on four other accounts involving Members of Parliament.
Hon. Dr Omona has come in consistently. The other time the Member was saying hon. Kivumbi and now it is hon. Mbaju. It can happen to anybody. I would pray that before our security swings into action, they should be able to take the information.
Secondly, sometimes I feel uncomfortable, Mr Speaker. There are issues that come and you begin asking yourself: is it because this lady works in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition that she was not given fair hearing? Could it be that possibly if she was from a different office she would have been heard? Could it be that if it were not me they would have informed the person who is the immediate supervisor?
To our security, we need to work together. When I call a person responsible for security, I think I am calling a person we are working with. Therefore, it would be proper that instead of the staff being very arrogant and abusive, we can cooperate and understand each other. I was hurt as a person by the way SP Annabella responded to my communication. It was rather very rude even when I was not rude and I did not take it lightly. There was some level of disrespect, which I think went too far.
If that is the way we are going to handle matters, Mr Speaker, then we can choose to lose respect on both sides and we also cease to respect them and deal with them in that manner.
I, therefore, would like to pray that Members here present deal with Sylvia as an honest woman. She was just doing her work. She is a God-fearing woman and the whole family was in tears. Whoever participated in tarnishing her image, we condemn them.
Arresting as if you are kidnapping someone is also condemnable. It must not happen to anyone, leave alone the fact that it has happened to Sylvia. Our own security is not going to torment us and we should not just sit and watch this happen.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, this is a personal statement – [Mr Okupa: “It is for the good of us, Mr Speaker.”]- No, this is a personal statement and the rules are clear. Let us not open the debate on the subject, please. [Mr Okupa: “We are not debating.”] Please, any comment is debating. The information has come and this is a matter that will be handled administratively.
The purpose of this particular personal statement was to deal with the issue of the new image that has been created to this staff of Parliament and to clear whatever has happened. The rest of the other issues of conduct of officers of this House will be handled administratively.
However, I think honourable members, we receive this statement in respect of the staff who has been a victim and now the repercussion is that all over the social media, she is being portrayed as somebody else, which she is not and we have a responsibility to our own staff to try and redeem this image. Thank you.
Honourable members, this House is adjourned to tomorrow at 2 o’clock.
(The House rose at 8.14 p.m. and adjourned until Thursday, 31 May 2018 at 2.00 p.m.)