Leaders in the Taxi industry have vowed to reject a proposed new country-wide levy on each Taxi by the ministry of Local government.
The taxi driver’s latest defiance comes hot on the heels of an announcement by the Minister of Local government Tom Butime to introduce a new Ushs80,000 levy for each of the taxis country-wide to boost local revenues.
The chairman of Uganda Transport Development Agency (UTRADA) Mustafa Mayambala called upon all taxi drivers country wide to defy the ministers’ order reasoning that it is tantamount to multiple taxation and therefore in contravention of the presidential directive to the Ministry of Local government last year to streamline taxation within the industry .
“I am calling upon all taxi drivers to ignore the levy of Ushs80,000 according to the new guidelines passed by the Ministry of Local Government. But let them continue with their work because as they all know this is double taxation which in our view is a contravention of the President’s directives to stem it,” said Mayambala, while accusing the Minister of failure to engage them as stakeholders.
Mayambala accused the minister of arm-twisting them after ignoring several directives from the head of state to harmonize taxation in the taxi industry.
An inter-ministerial meeting held and chaired by Beti Kamya and attended by Local Government State Minister Jenifer Namuyangu among other government officials at the president’s office last year about the taxi industry resolved to convene a stakeholder’s meeting on Dec. 19, which taxi drivers complain never was.
But the Commissioner in the Ministry of Local government in charge of urban inspection Yasin Ssendawula says that he convened the said (stakeholders’) meeting although he did not specify the date and the key stakeholders in attendance.
“Up to now that meeting has never been convened but to our surprise we have just come across your revised policy guidelines on levying taxes on taxis,” Mayambala says.
They also accuse Local government officials for ignoring a similar directive by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) advising them to liaise with the UTRADA to find a lasting solution to multiple taxation.
“This multiple taxation has also of recent resulted into terrible fights between the taxi drivers and the revenue collectors. This is therefore to direct that you liaise with the Executive Director of KCCA and find a way of harmonizing the taxation system of taxis from Kampala with the Local Governments outside the city center,” reads the IGG’s letter in part.
Justifying the defiance, UTRADA’s Vice Chairman Sekyaya told The Sunrise that they are trying to avoid the repeat of ugly incidents in the past where scores of taxi drivers were either injured or killed in Kayunga, Iganga and Kamuli among others while avoiding revenue collectors.
The Chairman of Kampala Operational Taxis Stages Association (KOTSA) Yasin Ssematimba has joined Mayambala’s UTRADA to protest the proposed tax.
“If I drive from Kampala for example and run through Wakiso, Masaka, Lwengo, and Kalungu totaling four districts in one day are they going to charge me Ushs 240,000? Ssematimba asked.
“This is neither fair nor acceptable” Ssematimba added.
But Ssendawula told The Sunrise that while the tax drivers in Kampala may have issues with the new policy guidelines, he is very happy with the response of their counterparts in local governments upcountry including among others Lira, Mbarara and Mbale.
“We are concerned with local governments outside of Kampala and those in Kampala who are complaining are under the jurisdiction of KCCA with which they should sort out their issues,”
In fact some local governments wanted a higher rate and therefore we’re not happy with the fact that the new guidelines put a cap of only Ushs80,000 down from about Ushs200,000 that taxi drivers used to pay before the rates reduced.