SEATINI Uganda and Partners Advise Soroti City Political and Technical Wings to Prioritize Property Tax to Finance Service Delivery
In a bid to enhance equitable subnational revenue mobilization in Soroti City, SEATINI-Uganda and other partners (Oxfam, Public Affair Center (PAC)-Teso sub-region and Advocacy for Research in Development (ARiD)-Acholi sub-region conducted a training on Property Tax that brought together for Technical and Political wings and Property Owners of Soroti Municipality/City. This training was held from 6th – 8th May 2021 in Soroti District.
The purpose of the training was to enhance participants’ understanding on how to manage Property Tax collection and expectations from the property owners/taxpayers, assess challenges and opportunities Property Tax mobilization, utilisation, and accountability in Soroti City, and generating recommendations and way forward.
While giving the introductory remarks Mr. Ocan Benson the Executive Director of Public Affair Centre (PAC) called upon the Technocrats and Political wings to ensure that they support city revenue enhancement efforts because governance requires resources.
While kick-starting the training on Property Tax, the consultant started with a Quote; “Just like every plant requires soil, light, water, and fertilizers in order to germinate, and to grow into a resourceful tree, and every baby requires a variety of foods and care; in order to grow into a reasonable person; so does government require taxes in order to develop into a reasonable economy and to deliver the best services to its citizens;” Neriko
The training revealed that the Local Governments originate their mandates from the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995; Objective 17(g) of the constitution 1995 as amended; Article 176 (1); Article 176 (2d); Article 176(2e), and the Local Government Act CAP 243 specifically including among others; Sec. 80(1), Sec. 80 (2) and Sec. 11. Property tax.
Some of the Key issues discussed during the training;
• Poor data collection within the Municipality/city is making it difficult to exploit the Property Tax potential.
• There is poor/inadequate accountability to the stakeholders/taxpayers especially on budget allocation and utilization.
• Lack of a comprehensive revenue register for all the revenue sources is hindering revenue mobilization within the city.
• There is insufficient understanding of the land laws (Land was colonially divided into tenures (Milo, crown land) among different stakeholders.
• City planner and Soroti City/Municipality are not speaking the same language.
• Participants proposed that Soroti Municipality/City Council should collaborate with different partners especially CSOs in the areas of sensitization and accountability.
• Need to ensure the effective establishment of the “Rate Property Association” as a key player in Property Tax revenue management.
• Need to demystify tax issues for easier consumption by the targeted beneficiaries/Taxpayers.
• Soroti Municipality/city should learn from the experience of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and change from having a Revenue Unit under the Finance Department to a fully-fledged revenue directorate
In conclusion, Technical and Political wings in Soroti Municipality were advised to ensure that Local Revenue Management Processes, especially for Property Tax are properly followed, including among others; Enumeration and Registration, and Assessment which is supposed to be executed by the Property Valuer not the Town Agents, followed by the development of a Comprehensive Revenue Register, Billing and Collection, and sensitization which is under the mandate of the council. Furthermore, the council was advised to use the window for appeal comprehensively both for appeal processes by the property owners and for enforcement when it comes to noncompliance.