Makerere University Emerges Winner during the 4th Annual Inter- University Debate on Tax Justice
On 28th and 30th September 2021, SEATINI Uganda in partnership with Uganda Revenue Authority, Debate Society Uganda, Action Aid International Uganda, Oxfam in Uganda, African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) and European Union and held the 4th annual Inter- University Debate under the theme “Using Tax as a tool to Address the Challenges of the Youth”.
The main aim of the debate was to amplify the voices of youth in the process of working to promote equitable revenue mobilisation policies. The two-day debate which was held both virtually and physically brought together 22 teams from 12 universities across Uganda as a strategy to facilitate youth-led conversations on the challenges they face and how tax can be used as a tool address them.
The motions for the preliminary debate rounds that were held virtually included; “This House believes that there is no moral obligation to pay unjust and unfair taxes”; “This house supports the elimination of tax incentives and exemptions for Investors”; and “The House believes that the old have a moral obligation to pay more Tax” while the semi-finals and the finals that happened physically focused on two main topics and these included; “This house supports Tax free internet access” and “This House believes that there is moral obligation to pay unjust and unfair taxes”
During the preliminaries, debaters cited that the recently scrapped social media tax and the newly introduced excise duty on internet data have limited access to information whereas on the affirmative side, debaters contended that while taxes are required for the government to raise revenue and provide services to the citizens, there should be an evident connection between tax revenue and access to public services.
Debaters also highlighted that whereas it is believed that revenue has numerous benefits in terms of financing provision of public services to citizens, it is key to create awareness and educate the public about their obligation to pay taxes.
In his remarks a the Grand Finale of the Inter- University Debate, Ambassador Nathan Irumba, Chair, Board of Trustees SEATINI, emphasised the need for the youth to actively influence the Tax Justice Agenda in Uganda.
Mr David Rusoke, the Team Leader for Tax Literacy at Uganda Revenue Authority noted that through such debates and competitions, youth are able to understand and appreciate their obligation to pay taxes thus creating awareness about taxes in order to ensure compliance.
“We want the society to willingly pay their taxes but that doesn’t happen when people are not aware of their obligation as tax payers. Therefore we decided to start from the young population through these tax debates since they are the majority in this country,” Mr Rusoke said.
According to Ms Grace Namugambe, Programme Officer at SEATINI Uganda, such debates ensure that students get interested in tax related issues and discussions. She added that through such engagements youth are able to engage and air out their opinions on the different tax policies in the country.
In addition, Mr Ryan Muhumuza from Debate Society Uganda reiterated that such debates offer mentorship to young people on issues to do with tax and economics since they shun away from engaging in discussion around these issues.
Mr Muhumuza added that when the youth discuss the challenges they face and freely express their views, we are able to collectively find solutions to these challenges.
In this year’s Inter- University debate on Tax Justice, Makerere University emerged the winners and they will represent the country in the East African Inter- University Debate on Tax Justice.