URA impounds UBC vehicles over Shs 15bn tax arrears

URA impounds UBC vehicles over Shs 15bn tax arrears
Aerial view of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) offices

Just days after appealing to have Shs 400 billion tax arrears owed by several government entities written off, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has impounded five vehicles belonging to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) over unpaid tax.

The vehicles were impounded over tax arrears amounting to Shs 14.9 billion. URA public affairs manager Ian Rumanyika says the vehicles were impounded to compel UBC to clear arrears in value added tax (VAT), withholding tax, And Pay as You Earn (PAYE), which have accumulated over a period of nine years. He, however, hastens to add that negotiations are ongoing between the two government entities.

“UBC is already in discussion with URA, but the taxes have been over a period of time and some Memorandum of Understanding between the two have not been fulfilled,” Rumanyika says.

UBC public relations officer Jane Kasumba equally says that says the management of UBC is working on a way forward. UBC is the public broadcaster of Uganda.

It was formed as a result of the “Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2004,” which merged the operations of Uganda Television and Radio Uganda.

UBC operates several radio and television channels spread across Uganda. UBC has been struggling to attract funding, in 2016, government bailed UBC out with Shs 20 billion to revive the media empire, however in 2017, its staff went without salaries for over three months, forcing them to strike.

A UBC review committee headed by Dr Peter Mwesige, the executive director of the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) recommended a total overhaul of the broadcaster. The committee noted that UBC was mismanaged and underfunded among others.

UBC has started getting public confidence back following the appointment of Nada Anderson, a Serbian national who has lived in Uganda for the last 15 years.

Anderson came with immediate reforms including sanctioning balanced coverage of political events in the country. UBC has often been accused of giving little or no coverage at all to political activities deemed anti-government.

Early this year, UBC was ordered to pay former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye Shs 80 million after the broadcaster failed to run his campaign adverts ahead of the 2011 general elections despite him paying over Shs 21 million.