SEATINI Uganda and Other CSOs Ask Government to Expedite Renegotiation of DTAs.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) called on the Ministry of Finance to expedite the renegotiation of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) in order to curb revenue leakages through illicit financial flows. This call was made at the CSO Pre-Budget Dialogue during which, an official from Ministry of Finance, Gerald Namoma revealed that there is already an ongoing process to renegotiate some of Uganda’s Double Taxation Agreements and that this will help to curb revenue leakages.
A study by SEATINI Uganda and Action Aid International Uganda (AAIU) in 2014 revealed that countries across Africa are losing $50-60 billion every year to illicit financial flows, with two-thirds of this being lost to manipulation of commercial transactions.
Speaking during a panel discussion as part of the CSO Pre-Budget Dialogue, Jane Nalunga, the Executive Director at SEATINI Uganda noted that there is need for East African Community Partner States to harmonize their tax incentives especially in the Oil and Gas sector to avoid the race to the bottom.
Jane Nalunga pointed out that Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) in the Oil and Gas sector are shrouded in secrecy to the extent that the public does not know the details of these agreements that the Government signed with the various Oil Companies.
On the other hand, Siraji Magara, the Extractives Coordinator at Oxfam in Uganda noted that there is alot of under declaration in the Oil and Gas sector which is not easy to deal with. He added that transparency mechanisms should be put to place to enable collection of revenue.
Gloria Sebikari, the Manager Corporate Affairs and Public Relations at Petroleum Authority of Uganda noted that the extractive industry is going to employ about 14,000 youth directly and 45,000 indirectly and projects to generate USD40bn dollars as revenue from the Oil & Gas sector.
When it comes to employment, about 160,000 new jobs stand to be created through forward and backward linkages and about $8billion revenue is projected to come out of the Oil and Gas sector in the next five years, Ms. Gloria Sebikari, Manager, Corporate Affairs & Public Relations, Petroleum Authority of Uganda said.
While giving his remarks at the dialogue, the Executive Director at CSBAG, Julius Mukunda noted that there has been a slow transition from sector-wide approach to programme based approach of the National Development Plan (NDP) III across a number of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Local Governments as some institutional budgets are not aligned with the programme-based budgeting.
Musiime Moses from the Institute of Social and Economic Rights reiterated the need for government to invest in sectors such as education and health to respond to the needs of the growing population.
According to CSOs, government needs to address administrative challenges such as staffing gaps, gaps in compliance and enforcement which undermine tax collection efforts. CSOs also urged government to increase funding to the Local Governments to enhance services delivery.
The CSO Pre-Budget Dialogue was organized as part of the National Budget Month Activities by CSBAG, SEATINI Uganda, URA, Food Rights Alliance, MoFPED, PSFU, ISER, Uganda Petroleum Authority, Action Aid Uganda and Oxfam in Uganda.