SEATINI and Other Partners Hold the Post EAC Tax and Budget Dialogue FY 2021/22:
On 22nd June 2021, SEATINI Uganda and other Partners including the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), Uganda Revenue Authority, CSBAG, among others organized the first ever Post EAC Tax and Budget Dialogue under the theme: “Moving Towards a Harmonised Fiscal Regime in the East African Community (EAC) Region?.”
The dialogue that was televised on NTV-Uganda and Smart 24 TV brought together representatives from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Private sector, EAC secretariat, CSOs, Women-led Organisations, Small and Medium Enterprises and media to have an understanding of the tax measures which have been adopted by countries within the EAC region.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Leo Kizito Ojara, the Commissioner Economic Affairs at the Ministry of East African Community Affairs (MEACA) noted that Article 32 of the Common Market Protocol provides that Partner States shall progressively harmonize their tax policies and laws to remove distortions in order to facilitate free movement of goods, services and capital and to promote investment within the EAC region. Article 8 of the EAC Monetary Union Protocol provides for harmonisation and coordination of fiscal policies and avoidance of harmful competition, he added.
Mr. Leo Kizito Ojara further stressed that the overall objective of tax harmonization is to create a clear regional approach to taxation of cross-border transactions to ensure that Partner States are clear on the roles and responsibilities so that the process of harmonisation is implemented in an efficient, cost effectiveness and consistent manner.
While giving a keynote address, Mr. Moses Kaggwa, the Acting Director, Economic Affairs, at MoFPED emphasized that the budget proposals for FY 2021/22, are premised on the need for sustainable industrialization, inclusive growth, employment, wealth creation, import substitution, and recovery from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 in East African Community.
Mr. Abel Kagumire, Commissioner, Customs at the Uganda Revenue Authority who also represented the Commissioner General of the Uganda Revenue Authority emphasized that under the Single Customs Territory, Uganda Revenue Authority is working across all borders seamlessly.
‘‘It is important to appreciate that we are at different levels of development as EAC Partner States. As we are implementing tax harmonisation, we need to consider the possibility of having centralized revenue administration (collection).That is the big picture,’’ Mr. Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner, Customs at URA said.
While presenting the findings of the Study titled Analysis of Tax Measures in the East African Community Member States: Are We Moving Towards a Harmonised Tax System that was commissioned by SEATINI Uganda, East African Tax and Governance Network (Kenya), Policy Forum (Tanzania), Transparency International (Kenya), Governance for Africa (Rwanda), Dukingire Isi Yacu (Burundi), Diakonia and Tax Justice Network Africa, Ms. Jane Nalunga, the Executive Director at SEATINI Uganda emphasized that the EAC region has made strides in harmonizing tax laws including developing the East African Customs Management Act (2004), EAC Double Taxation Agreement (2011) and EAC Mining Bill (2017) in addition to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania adopting a unified budget approach and synchronized presentation on the same day.
On the other hand, Mr. Kenneth Apollo Bagamuhunda, the Director General of Customs and Trade at the EAC Secretariat explained that the underlying motive of economic integration based on the EAC perspective was the need to promote trade through market expansion and the whole concept was premised on the aspect of bringing countries and leveraging on the population and economies of scale that are created through market expansion.