Split, low tax base worry Kabarole residents

Kabarole District
Kabarole District map and location. Courtesy Photo.

Residents and leaders of Kabarole district are bothered that the continued split of the district is reducing locally generated revenues and narrowing their resource envelope.

In 2014, parliament approved the creation Bunyangabu district, curved out of present day Kabarole district. The new district will become operational in July 2017. Its creation leaves Kabarole with only two counties, Burahya and Fort Portal Municipality.

This is the third time Kabarole has been chopped following the creation of Kamwenge and Kyenjojo districts in 2000. Proponents of the creation of new districts argue that it is intended to ‘Bring services closer to the people.’

However the split has triggered concern among residents and local leaders arguing that it will reduce the revenue base of Kabarole district. According to records from the department of finance and administration, Bunyagabu alone has been generating more than 1.9 billion Shillings annually as local revenue especially from three major markets; Mugusu, Rwimi and Nyakigumba.

Prosper Businge, a resident of Kagote, Fort Portal Municipality, says that the retention of the three markets under Bunyagabu imply that revenues to the mother district will dwindle. He adds that the government argument that the creation of the district will bring services closer to the people is a hoax.

Richard Asiimwe, a resident of Busoro Sub County says that the new district will increase the tax burden and increase public expenditure by employing many people. Asiimwe argues that instead of splitting the district, local leaders should have put measures in place to improve service delivery to the residents. He cites bad roads in the area which are affecting transportation of agricultural produce.

Peter Musinguzi, the district secretary for Finance, Planning and Administration admits that the split of the district will affect its revenue base and that the district could face an uphill task to raise adequate revenue locally.

Musinguzi however says that the district plans to increase local revenue mobilization and collection by constructing new Sub County markets as well as carrying out an update of revenue and tax payer registers. He says that other measures would include increased sensitization of the public by the parish chiefs on the need to pay local revenue.

The Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment (ACODE) have in the past argued that districts are being established along tribal lines as opposed to extending services to people. ACODE is of the view that instead of allocating funds to new districts, local leaders should instead lobby for the allocation of more finances to the existing districts to improve service delivery.

– Uganda Radio Network