Gov’t Insists Taxes on Fuel, Kerosene, Water Are Minimal

Justine Lumumba, the government chief whip
Justine Lumumba, the government chief whip

Government still insists that the taxes proposed in the 2013-2014 Budget on Fuel and Water are too minimal to be criticized by the public and media.

In the budget the Minister of Finance Maria Kiwanuka proposed an additional 50 shillings excise duty on fuel and re-introduced kerosene excise duty of 200 shillings per litre.

Government Chief Whip Justine Lumumba told members of the press that media houses are portraying these taxes as a burden to the people which she said that it was only 50 shillings that was increased on fuel and argued the media, ministers and politicians to let the public know that the increase is so minimal and does not require protests.

She blamed the media for only reporting the budget negatively citing criticisms over the taxes saying that they should at least report on how government managed to see to it that 81% of the 2013-2014 Budget is to be funded by Ugandans which she said is a big achievement.

She appealed to the media to appreciate this achievement before advising government on how to improve the budget.

Lumumba noted that there has been no tax on Kerosene and government has just introduced the tax, she argued that when the levy was scrapped off years back, the traders continued with charging this 200 shilling hence cheating the people hence government decided to bring the tax back.

This was during an interaction between the office of the government chief whip and parliamentary reporters at a breakfast meeting on Tuesday.

Parliamentary Journalists urged the Government Chief Whip to apologize to the people of Uganda for her statement of viewing the taxes minimal since most of the rural people cannot afford kerosene with the increment of the fees yet they depend on it in the absence of Electricity.

Lumumba said that she cannot apologize since when they removed the taxes on kerosene the price on fuel pumps never went down  hence they decided to bring back the tax.

Meanwhile, last week members of Uganda Women parliamentarians through their leader MP Betty Amongi threatened to reject the taxes if they are not scrapped by government before tabling the budget on the Floor of Parliament.

These MPs proposed that government taxes other goods other than water and kerosene which they said are so essential to the poor rural women citing more taxes on goods like cigarettes, cosmetics, beer and others.

Lumumba said that she does not expect any NRM member to reject the taxes unless someone is bringing a proposal to tax other goods saying that the budget was discussed by the NRM budget Committee and NRM caucus and issues from members were raised and considered.

She added that even some of UWOPA members are NRM members and were party to the discussions of the budget.

Lumumba appealed to UWOPA NRM members to take their proposals in regard to the budget to the NRM Caucus for discussions.

The Minister of Information and National Guidance Rose Mary Namayanja said that an average family in the village uses a litre of kerosene for approximately nine days and when you divide the 200 shillings that the budget proposed for nine days it gives an increment in the family’s expenditure of 22.2shilling a day and 8,013shillings a year which she said that this rural person was paying graduated tax of 30,000shilling which is no longer paid hence saying that this is not a lot of money.

MP David Bahati the Deputy Chief Whip of government said that as a person as sat on the committee that spearheaded the Budget they realized that as a country they could not continue to allow other countries to fund a sovereign nation’s budget.

He noted that the committee managed to serve 38billion on the budget that he been made through cutting on unnecessary expenditure and proposed the fees on fuel for a purpose to reface the 70 billion to be realized from the fuel levies for maintenance of roads and it is to go to the Road Fund.

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