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In the coming financial year (2018/19), which is just two months away, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will be required to domestically raise Shs16.2 trillion. Out of that, about Shs418b is expected to be raised from non-tax revenue.

This amounts to about 53 per cent of the total resource envelope, which is estimated at nearly Shs30 trillion. The theme of the budget as it stands: “Industrialisation for job creation and shared prosperity,” is a key slogan that rhymes well. The question now is; will the implementation follow the rhythm? However, given past trends there has been a variance between revenue projections and actual collections. In the financial year 2016/17 net collections stood at Shs12.7 trillion, registering a shortfall of about Shs500b.

The deficit was about the size of the current budget allocated to the ministry of Agriculture and slightly more than four times the current budget of the ministry of Trade. To cover up the deficit, government was compelled to rely on external and domestic debt, which currently stands at 27 per cent of GDP, according to the 2017/18 Budget Speech.

So far the second biggest expenditure of the budget will go towards servicing interests on debts secured by government. According to a report by the Parliament’s Committee on National Economy for the 2016/17 financial year, the rate at which Uganda is paying off its debt, will take approximately 94 years or more to repay the existing stock of debt. Uganda Debt Network Research indicates that the total public debt by June 2017 was in excess of $13b (about 47.5 trillion) while Bank of Uganda has put the “provisional total public debt stock (at nominal value) as at end of December 2017 at Shs37.9 trillion.

Examining Taxes on Agriculture and the Exemptions