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SEATINI-Uganda has called on Parliament to ensure that funding to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) for the FY2018/19 is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) II in order to realize the Budget theme and vision 20140.

Presenting their position paper on MTIC ministerial policy statement for the financial year 2018/19, to the Parliamentary committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, SEATINI noted that MTIC is important in establishing backward and forward linkages between manufacturing and agriculture, creating employment and wealth, tackling the ever increasing Trade deficit (currently at USD 238.80 Million), addressing the ever increasing indebtedness (projected at US$ 10.74 Billion for the FY 2018/19), advancing technology, stimulating agricultural production and productivity, and export competitiveness and ultimately improving people’s livelihoods. In order to address these challenges, to 0.5% of the 29.274 Trillion UGX Budget for the FY 2018/19 which has been allocated to the ministry is inadequate.

In order to develop appropriate and enabling trade and trade related policies and regulatory frameworks while ensuring their effective implementation, in order to increase on her exports bill and address standards while supporting domestic industrialization, and local economic development through District Commercial Officers, SEATINI made the following recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee:

  • Budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives should be made a priority sector given its role in the economic development of the country.   The sector should therefore be allocated with more resources in line with the proposals in the NDPII. This is more so given the fact that the ministry houses key agencies like UEPB, UDC; UIRI; UDC which at the moment are underfunded.  
  • There is need to increase budgetary allocations to the sector to finance trade and investment related negotiations to protect and promote our interests/positions, policy space and in order to be able to negotiate a conducive policy for industrialization and Trade. In order to facilitate more comprehensive ongoing trade and investment negotiations…and undertake more inclusive policy processes, there is need to budget for the Inter Institutional Trade Committee (IITC) (which is a Multi-Stakeholder consultation committee).
  • UNBS should be allocated with enough resources to raise awareness of the business community, farmers, manufacturers and consumers about standards compliance; and also train value chain actors within specific products. UNBS also has a critical role to harmonize national standards with regional ones to facilitate access of Ugandan products in regional markets. In order to increase its coverage, the UNBs should establish and furnish structures   in at least 10 key districts to ensure that testing, standardization and certification services are brought closer to the value chain actors.
  • It is critical that funding for MSMEs be prioritized in order to: Train MSMEs in boosting value addition, for increased trade and competitiveness; enhance the capacity of MSMEs to benefit from the opportunities therein policies like Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) and Local Content; and engage MSMEs in policy processes pertaining to national, regional and global markets to ensure that their interests are taken into account.
  • With the EU funded District Commercial Services Support (DICOSS) Project ending, there need to be allocation of funding to continue this important work done by the DCOs.
  • The MTIC needs more budgetary allocation to strengthen the cooperative movement especially in enabling farmers come together to produce in bulk, add value and be able to effectively market their goods.
  • In order to ensure coherence in our trade negotiating positions and policies, the MTIC should take lead in trade and trade related policies and negotiations at all levels and also be in charge of all Trade related Agencies.

Members of Parliament Respond:

Led by Hon. Alex Ruhunda, the Chairperson of the Committee, SEATINI-Uganda was commended for the continued good work of building the capacity of Members of Parliament on understanding the dynamics and implications of Trade Policies and Negotiations on development, through research and advocacy. They also reiterated on the need to ensure adequate funding to the Ministry of Trade in order to ensure that increased intra-regional trade and markets being negotiated at regional, sub-regional, continental and global levels are fully put to use through increased value added exports and services.

The committee assured SEATINI that like it was done for the Budget Framework Paper for FY2018/19 where majority of the proposals were taken onboard, efforts will be undertaken to consider that the positions in the Ministerial Policy Statement for the MTIC are considered.

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NA members of Nampumpum Sub-county in Kotido District during the monitoring visit.

SEATINI Uganda with support from OXFAM organized monitoring visits to assess TOTs advocacy campaign work in West Nile (Arua & Koboko), Acholi (Pader & Agago) and Teso (Soroti, Serere & Kotido) regions. This was done alongside other partners who included; Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), AFIC, CEFORD, PAC, WORUDET and CEWIT under the Financing for Development Project. The project envisions an efficient public finance system in Uganda that promotes fiscal measures for enhanced inclusive growth and active participation of citizens.

The visits aimed at assessing the collaboration under the financing for development project at national and subnational level, analyze the work done by Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) since the past engagements under the F4D organized by CEWIT in 2016 & SEATINI in 2017 and finally review the work of the Neighborhood Assemblies located in their respective regions.

During the visits, it was observed that gaps still exist between the policy makers and citizens on issues pertaining the tax policy and practices. It is therefore imperative that citizens, policy makers, civil society, academia and government technocrats come together to strategize on developing more progressive tax policies for the country. World over, capacity building has been an integral part of advocacy and policy influence. Through this project, a number of interventions have taken place since its inception in 2016 using different approaches and strategies.

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 Right - Ms Clara Mira, IMF Resident Representative, Uganda making her submissions
 
SEATINI Uganda with support from Oxfam Uganda convened a study validation meeting on 22-3-2018 to review the Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) and its effectiveness in enhancing Tax Administration in Uganda. The meeting brought together stakeholders from government, civil society as well as media for input and recommendations to the final document.

The Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) is a diagnostic assessment tool for tax administration developed under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The tool was deliberately modeled on the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability framework as a revenue counterpart under Public Financial Management assessments along with providing a more comprehensive view of the whole fiscal picture. It is an integrated monitoring framework that measures performance of a country’s tax administration at a point in time and also designed to provide objective and consistent assessments of the outcome performance across the essential tax administration functions. The tool addresses questions of “what” and “why” with respect to performance. The assessment report (the output) was expected to have significant input into the reform objectives, and design, sequencing and prioritization of technical assistance.

The TADAT initiative is part of a wider agenda of the international community to help countries strengthen their tax systems to better mobilize the domestic revenue they need to provide essential goods and services to their citizens in a sustainable and economically sound way. All countries at all income levels and at all stages of development face an ongoing challenge to deliver the highest quality tax administration services to meet the needs and expectations of government, taxpayers of many types, and the wider community. Governments face fiscal pressures, businesses demand even handedness and higher service standards with ways of interacting with the tax administration as modern as those found in the best areas of the private sector, and the public demand accountability and transparency from the tax administration which has extensive reach into the community.

This report presents findings of a study commissioned by SEATINI Uganda to critically analyse the applicability of the TADAT framework and its effectiveness in improving tax administration outcomes in Uganda. The study focused on government responses aimed at improving Uganda’s performance on the TADAT outcome areas based on the findings of the 2015 assessment, as well as Uganda’s strength and weaknesses in the implementation of the TADAT.

Below are some recommendations suggested during the meeting;

  • Currently URA is more focused on tax compliance and thus needs to shift towards tax education and the establishment of a link between TIN numbers and national identification numbers to clearly map out tax payers.
  • Improved collaboration among government agencies in regards to information sharing regardless of the many challenges faced in data security and privacy.
  • Simplification of current tax laws for better compliance; this makes it easy for tax payers to better understand and appreciate the tax system.
  • Undertake legal reforms for improved effectiveness and efficiency of URA and the tax administration system.
  • Request from URA to the researcher in providing a more detailed recommendation to each performance indicator.
  • No country in Africa performs yearly TADAT assessment as a result of some indicators needing time to be worked upon.