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Government is aiming at collecting at least Shs 16.35 trillion to support the estimates in the 2018/19 Shs 32.7 trillion year budget presented on Thursday afternoon.
Part of this, totalling Shs 15.9 trillion will be raised from the new tax measures which will come into effect at the beginning of July. The remaining Shs 420 billion will be raised from non-tax revenue sources.
The new tax measures include Shs 200 daily levy on each person using social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber and Skype among others, a 1 per cent excise duty on each mobile money transaction, a Shs 200 levy on every litre of cooking oil and Shs 100 on every litre of diesel and petrol.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija
The other measures include a duty of Shs 650 levied on each litre of opaque beer, Shs 1500 per litre on ready to drink spirits and Shs 200 for every litre of non-alcoholic beverages with the exception of fruit or vegetable juices among others.
To generate more revenues, Finance minister Matia Kasaija says Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will, among other things, pursue tax evaders, heighten business intelligence, expand tax system management, enhance tax arrears management, combat smuggling, establish container scanners, and increase post-clearance audits.
However, although the budget swelled up to 32.7 per cent, it worsens the country's debt burden as 50 per cent of its financing will be from borrowing and grants.
Kasaija says that the government expects to raise Shs 7.73 trillion through external financing Shs 6.14 trillion from loans, Shs 1.5 trillion from grants and Shs 1.78 trillion from domestic borrowing. This implies that collections by URA constitute roughly 50 per cent, leaving a deficit of 50 per cent, which will be filled by borrowing.
Donor budget support will be a miserly 289 billion shillings, while appropriations in aid, which is revenues collected by government departments, will be 1.3 percent.
Although the Finance minister said Uganda's debt to GDP ratio is still at 38.1 per cent and still sustainable, because it is still below the 50 per cent danger zone, borrowing 50 per cent to finance the budget will worsen the public debt.
As of March 2018, Uganda's debt burden was $10.5bn, and since there have been more borrowing since March, the debt burden is higher than the 10.5-billion-dollar point. Out of the budget, Kasaija says Shs 5.2 trillion will be for domestic debt refinancing but is silent on external debt refinancing.
According to the 2018/19 budget framework paper, Shs 10.6 trillion, nearly one-third of the budget, will be for debt repayment. If Shs 5.2 trillion is for domestic refinancing, then it means Shs 5.4 trillion will be for external refinancing.
On tax administration, Kasaija says non-tax revenues will be the mandate of URA, warning that accounting officers who will collect non tax revenues (NTRs) and fail to remit to URA will be treated as defaulters.
According to Kasaija, the government has earmarked to invest in tax administration measures so as to improve the capacity of URA to implement the current tax laws and enforce taxpayer compliance.
The budget presents several incentives to promote both domestic and foreign investment including incentives for investments in the development of industrial parks or free zones, the establishment of new factories, and development of hotels and tourist facilities.
In the budget, the total recurrent expenditure stands at Shs 9.4 trillion while development expenditure is estimated at Shs 13.1 trillion. The additional Shs 10.1 trillion is classified as statutory expenditure. At least Shs 24 trillion of the total will be mobilized from domestic sources and Shs 7 trillion from external support.
Works and Transport sector is taking a lion's share of the budget at Shs 4.8 trillion, Shs 1 trillion above last year's allocation. The education sector funding now stands at Shs 2.4 trillion on the same footing with the Energy ministry. The health sector will get an allocation of Shs 2.2 trillion while local governments will collectively share Shs 3 trillion.
According to the budget, at least Shs 1.5 trillion will be spent on public sector management, Shs 1.4 trillion Swill be spent on security, and Shs 1.2 trillion will go the Justice Law and Order sector. The ministry of Agriculture will receive Shs 862 billion, the Ministry of Water and Environment will take Shs 595 billion and the Legislature will receive an allocation of Shs 459 billion.
Members of parliament have expressed mixed reactions over President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to the police and courts to desist from granting bond and bail to suspected murderers.
Museveni who was speaking shortly after the reading of the FY 2018/19 national budget last Thursday, said he had been provoked enough, and, he did not want to hear that suspected killers whom he described as ‘pigs and idiots’ who kill Ugandans have been released on police bonds and court bails.
The presidential directive comes on the heels of rampant murders that have rocked the country, the latest being the assassination of Arua Municipality MP (retired) Col. Ibrahim Abiriga. A section of legislators welcomed the presidential directive saying hardcore criminals especially murder suspects were taking advantage of bail to sometimes escape justice.
Some legislators The Observer spoke to however argued that Museveni’s directive sounded dictatorial, goes against the law, and that, if implemented, would lead to denial of human rights as well as lead to increased costs of maintaining inmates among others.
Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasimire
President Museveni talked much for the public gallery, to clap and please him. Removing bail means he is a judge and that is not his work. You cannot say that; I am removing bail and bond, which are constitutional matters. If he were interested in removing the bond and bail, he would have proposed this amendment together with the so-called age limit amendment.
His major interest was removing age limit to keep in power for life not to remove bond and bail. He should not deceive Ugandans that has never been his interest. He only says it for public consumption.
Secondly, he also knows that there are procedures why a judge grants bail - we follow the law, which presumes any suspect not guilty until proven. So now, you have no sufficient evidence, you even don’t want people you have put in courts to get bail, you want people to rot in jail?..He found bail there; he is going to leave it there. He found bond there, he is going to leave bond there.
Manjiya MP John Baptist Nambeshe
The president could have been emotional like all of us are after the loss of our beloved colleague Col [Ibrahim] Abiriga. This is the president ,32 years down the road, who would not be expected to be degenerating, suspending or making such a directive. Such a directive is a decree omniscient of Iddi Amin’s regime and it would be dictatorial in tendency and I wouldn’t expect him at this level to say that.
He has been a promoter of the rule of law; he cannot be a violator of the same. Even if it were a proposal brought to parliament to amend the constitution to remove bond and bail for even bail-able offences, very few members of parliament who are sober would support such a thing because it would be dictatorship of the highest order.
Mpigi woman MP Sarah Temulanda Nakawunde
Those suspects in most cases are innocent. When investigations are ongoing, there are always many people that are arrested but without bond or bail, it will lead to the prison facilities to be congested and government is going to spend a lot of money on feeding the inmates which also means the money allocated to prisons will not be enough to maintain them.
I don’t think it will be the best way to handle the current insecurity situation in the country.
Rwampara MP Charles Ngabirano
I think he said that out of anger. In the current situation, we are all annoyed, but of course, it has to be backed by law. It cannot not work legally unless we have amended the relevant laws.
However, we should also have the state institutions investigate cases very quickly and establish whether the persons who should not be given bail are the right people because you can arrest and imprison innocent people who will end up taking government to court for litigation.
So, I think we need to have a balance between what we do as government agencies and how we handle culprits if they are found to be the exact ones.
Mawogola South MP Joseph Ssekabito
I feel police bond can work because the commander in chief has given it out but when it comes to court bail it becomes another issue. It needs parliament to come back and amend the constitution on that issue.
We cannot let magistrates, judges do their work without laws and it is upon parliament now to go and look at that very issue of court bail, change it so that it can suit this environment of Uganda.
Nansana Municipality MP Robert Kasule Ssebunya
The president’s remarks on security are at the laxity within this democratic country. For people who have murdered others shouldn’t be given freedom to even interfere with the investigations or even delay prosecution.
Kakumiro Woman MP Robinah Nabbanja
I wish he had seen it yesterday, because this has been like an incubator for criminals. We have incubated them enough. I think enough is enough. The president has said this and I believe the country shall have some relief.
Mawokota South MP John Bosco Lubyayi
If you see that peace is deteriorating, I think you have to change some methods. The issue of 48 hours especially for those criminal cases may not be very tenable at certain times. If the president said I think we need to change the 48 hours confinement in prisons, somehow we can support him.
State Minister for Internal Affairs Mario Obiga Kania has said he does not know why the former inspector general of police Gen Kale Kayihura is being held.
General Kayihura was arrested on Wednesday from his home in Kasagama, Lyantonde district on the directives of the UPDF chief of defence forces Gen David Muhoozi. He was flown in a UPDF helicopter to Mbuya army headquarters and referred to Makindye Military Barracks for interrogation on matters that the says are still unspecified.
According to security sources, Kayihura has been linked to the recent spate of crimes in the country, including the murder of former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi last year. Now, minister Kania said he does not know why Kayihura is in detention. Instead, he advised journalists to find out from 'the people who arrested him'
"I don't know, ask the people who picked him," said Kania.
Kayihura who was sacked by President Yoweri Museveni in March has been criticized for failing to address insecurity leading to a number of high profile murders, kidnaps and robbers in the country. He had been at the helm of the police force since 2005.
It's during his tenure, that a senior police officer, Kaweesi was gunned down alongside his bodyguard and driver in Kulambiro, a suburb of Kampala.
Also killed during the same time was state prosecutor Joan Kagezi, Major Muhammad Kiggundu, and several Muslim clerics, shot in parts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mayuge. During his reign, a number of women were murdered in Wakiso district is suspected serial killings.
Government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa recently said Kayihura had been arrested for crimes committed during his leadership as IGP.
Government is considering electrifying the fence of the newly constructed Entebbe expressway to stop vandalism of road furniture, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
While commissioning the Kampala-Entebbe expressway at Mpala toll station in Wakiso district on Friday evening, Museveni said electrifying the fence will help minimise the burden of maintaining vandalised road furniture. The function was also graced by Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Museveni said cameras will also be installed to ease monitoring of activities along the road. The equipment usually vandalised according to the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) includes guard rails and road signs.
The president also reminded motorists who wish to use the road that; they will have to pay a yet-to-be determined amount of money, because the expressway was built as a toll road under the public-private partnership. He said Ugandans are so used to free things, but this time, they will have to pay if they want to use the road.
The tolling section, according to Unra, measures 25km running from Busega through Kajjansi to Abayita Ababiri (Mpala).
Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, the state Minister for Works, said the toll fee will be fixed after enactment of the Road Toll Bill. Road tolling is a form of road pricing on either a public or private roadway, typically implemented to help recover the cost of road construction and maintenance.
Wang is optimistic that the road will boost industrialisation in Uganda since it would reduce time goods spend in transit from Entebbe to Kampala. Wang said with the expressway, the time from Entebbe airport to Kampala will be reduced from the current two hours to 45 minutes.
The 49.56km highway connects Kampala city to Entebbe International Airport was constructed with a loan of up to $476 million (about Shs 1.8 trillion) from the Exim Bank of China constructed by the China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).
According to the findings of Committee of Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), the road has cost Uganda $9.2 million per kilometre - over and above the average cost $2 million per kilometre within the East African region in Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Meanwhile, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians will not be allowed to use the newly constructed road when it is officially opened.
Government says it will put up four more expressways including Kampala-Jinja expressway, Kampala-Busunju expressway, Kampala-Busega-Mpigi expressway, Kampala outer belt and Kampala-Bombo expressway.
These, government says will enhance efficient passenger and freight operations, improve mobility, reduce travel times, vehicle operating costs and accident rates.