Dialogue: The Glue to Inclusive Resource Mobilization Efforts.
At all levels in Uganda, there is limited citizen engagement in revenue mobilization, allocation, and accountability processes being exacerbated by a weak relationship between the government and citizens on taxation policy, and low access to taxpayer education and information.
SEATINI-Uganda with support from USAID-Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development (DRM4D) organised multi-stakeholder dialogues on 14th and 15th June 2022. These dialogues happened at the sub-national level in Soroti and Gulu cities to generate two issue papers on revenue mobilisation, allocation, and accountability.
During the dialogue in Soroti, Ms Regina Navuga a tax expert and the Coordinator, Financing for Development program at SEATINI-Uganda elucidated on the purpose of the dialogue to participants. She noted, ‘‘We believe that the views that are coming from the citizens can be used to inform future engagements on issues of revenue mobilisation, allocation and utilization and mobilize more resources for development of Uganda as a country.” .
Ms. Penninah Mbabazi, a Debt Policy Analyst at SEATINI Uganda emphasized that currently, Uganda’s Public debt is at 73.5 trillion, 35.3% of this year’s 48.1 trillion budget will be for paying interests and debt payment. “However, only 25.7 trillion is the target for revenue collection for FY 2022/23, meaning that the rest will come from borrowing among other sources,” she added.
Mr Benson Ekwe, the Executive Director of Public Affairs Center Uganda (PAC), which was the hosting partner for the dialogue in Soroti city, in his opening remarks expressed his desire to collaborate with the Local Government in resource mobilisation instead of only being a critique of the Government. “I want to talk about how my tax is used after I have participated in its mobilization”, he noted.
“I believe that the city has the capacity to generate enough revenue, the leaders only need to put interest on what will work for us the citizens.” Mr Benson added. He explained that there is a strong correlation between revenue collection and service delivery; the only way to encourage citizens participation is if their tax is being put to good use. Mr Benson added that PAC Uganda is already in the process of institutionalizing its relationship with Soroti city to better service delivery.
Mr Paul Omer, the Mayor of Soroti City East division encouraged technocrats to involve the political leadership at all the levels in revenue mobilization including during the collection of the taxes and also provide them with accountability on the utilization of resources. This is in order to promote joint ownership by both technocrats and political leaders at all stages from Revenue mobilization to its utilization.
Mr Omer also thanked SEATINI and PAC Uganda and pledged to work hand in hand with them to promote growth and development of Soroti City. “We have done a great job and put our ideas together so let us be ambassadors and build the city,” he added.