MPs task districts on local revenue collection

MPs task districts on local revenue collection
Kitgum Main Market. Courtesy Photo/Thomas White.

Legislators sitting on the Local Government Accounts Committee want districts to revolutionize strategies for local revenue mobilization and collection for effective service delivery.

They say most local governments are struggling to collect their projected revenue due to various chronic challenges within their systems. The impact, they say, is poor service delivery to the people.

The MPs cite the use of unqualified law enforcement officers among challenges hindering high tax collections in Uganda.

Reagan Okumu, the Chairperson of the Committee says districts recruit and maintain large pools of inhospitable law enforcement officers to collect their revenue. He says the law enforcement officers rely on intimidation of tax payers to achieve their missions.

“It is common to see errant individuals who behave as if they are half mad engaging in uncivilized methods of revenue collection. You see them kicking tax payers on the streets of Uganda for failing to pay their taxes,” says Okumu, the Aswa County Member of Parliament.

He proposes a review of contracts for all revenue enforcement officers.

Okumu, while speaking in Gulu on Tuesday, said introducing minimum qualification in revenue collection will eliminate unprofessional methods being used.

Francis Baryabanawe, the town clerk of Gulu Municipality had blamed their dismal performance in revenue collection on law enforcement officers.

“Mr. Chairman, whenever I go to the field with law enforcement officers, they abandon me in the field. And we have noticed cases of connivance with tax payers to evade taxes,” Baryabanawe said.

The Auditor General in his 2016 report noted that Gulu Municipality collected Shillings 1.59 billion out of the projected Shillings 1.7 billion in 2016.

Regulation 32 of the Local Governments Financial and Accounting Regulations 2007 states that the Head of Finance is responsible for ensuring that revenue collectors carry out their duties properly to ensure that all revenue due to the council is promptly collected in the approved manner and banked intact.

However, Samuel Musana, the Parliamentary Liaison Principal Auditor said most decentralized governments are failing to plug gaps through which revenue continues to leak to enforcement officers.

Major sources of revenue for local governments in Uganda include property rates, licenses and permits, hotel tax, local service tax, market dues and parking fees amongst others.