NOT CONVINCED! MPs reject URA’s Shs205Bn budget increment request

Legislators on Parliament’s Finance Committee have rejected pleas by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to have their budget increased by Shs205Bn after the Authority failed to justify how the money would impact on revenue collection.
John Musinguzi, Commissioner General-URA informed the Committee that if the proposed budget for URA is approved in its current form, URA would operate with a deficit of Shs205Bn, yet in the 2022/2023 national budget, URA is expected to collect Shs25.5Trn and warned Parliament that if the money isn’t availed, Uganda should forget about Shs4.3Trn as part of the revenue the Authority is expected to collect in order to fund the budget.
“There is some revenue that will be hard to reach without feeling some of the unfunded priorities and this is estimated to be about Shs4.35Trn. high on agenda will be the tax academy, the gap as long as the revenue,” he said.
In the 2022/2023 URA has been allocated Shs521.43Bn, however, the institution want more to fund a cocktail of its other items like Shs35Bn for the purchase and construction of Tax Academy to train its staff, Shs27.5Bn for office accommodation in Masaka and Mbale and for 22 selected customs and enforcement stations.
The Authority also needs Shs81.9Bn for staff welfare, another Shs2.41Bn for retention initiatives for office space rent in Kampala metro, Kampala north, Kampala south, and Shs12.73Bn for tax education public relations compliance management support among others.
However, Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) asked Musinguzi to explain how this will be feasible given that in the past they have supported initiatives from the authority but they have failed to increase the tax collections.
“I want you to demonstrate to me in graphical terms, by constructing an academy how you realize revenue of Shs1.8Trn. the Shs4Trn you have projected I want you to tell us that by giving you that money in any extent, you will realize that revenue,” said Muwanga.
Paul Omara (Otuke County) who noted that the unfunded priorities are only 2.8 percent of the revenue the authority is going to collect in the next financial year but tasked them to explain how this funding will contribute to the increment in tax revenue.
Musinguzi however, replied saying that the Shs4.3Trn cannot be attached to the revenue targets of the next financial year as some of the projects cannot be realized in a year.
However, Amos Lugoloobi, Minister of State for Planning also sided with the MPs in opposing budget increment to URA saying Government cannot fund only one area of the economy.
“We have to invest in the entire economy in order to grow the GDP, if you raise the tax collection measures and don’t expand the economy, you are asking URA to milk the cow without feeding it. We won’t be talking about one agency alone if we are to generate the revenue we want,” said Lugoloobi.
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