Black Monday activists today staged a short-lived protest titled “The Tax Payers Journey against the 2013/2014 budget presented last week.”
The activists who gathered near Christ the King Church in Kampala, had with them two black wheel barrows and four sacks of sand as they made their way to the Ministry of Finance Offices to seek an audience with Minister Maria Kiwanuka.
The Black wheel barrows had “The Tax Payer’s Burden and 70 Ministers” written on them.
The activists led by Leonard Okello also held placards reading “Stop wasteful expenditure, Uganda can do better with less Ministers, and Tax Alcohol and keep off water” among others. One placard had a picture of vehicles sinking in water with words “why must I pay tax if unstoppable Uganda is drowning?”
As the activists made their way to the Ministry of Finance, they explained that the sand demonstrates the heaviness of taxes that the government has put on the citizens.
Sweating as they pushed the wheelbarrows, Andrew Karamagi and Emma Mwanika lamented that the local citizens are still suffering as the ministers enjoy their hard earned money.
The activists’ intention was to petition Minister Kiwanuka with a Citizens’ demand note over what they called a prudent tax regime.
In the 2013/2014 budget read last week, the minister announced that Uganda will finance 81 percent of its budget which money will come from local taxes including levies on water, wheat flour, fuel, kerosene and cigarettes among others.
They are demanding that government immediately stop what they called the impunity associated with theft of public funds by investigating, prosecuting and convicting those involved. The activists also want the size of government reduced by trimming the number of ministers from 71 to 17, Members of Parliament from 370 to 150 and presidential advisors from 160 to none.
They also demand for the disbanding of all sector monitoring units and presidential initiatives which they say are duplicating the role of Ministries and other government agencies.
The activists further demanded for streamlining of overall costs of running government, abolishing tax holidays to foreign investors, stopping tax evasion and investing the savings from non-productive to productive and social service sectors such as health, education, road infrastructure, agriculture and food security.
Upon reaching the Ministry of Finance main entrance, Okello who is the executive chairman of Uhuru Institute, was stopped by the Ministry security guards who asked him to wait on the other side of the road as they consult the officials on whether to let them in.
Okello who agreed to cross the road then got out his statement to read, but could barely complete a paragraph.
Anti-riot police led by James Ruhweza, the Kampala Central Police Commander, arrived at the scene and arrested three activists. The sacks of sand and wheelbarrows were also confiscated and taken to Central Police Station.