President Museveni has used his campaign tour in eastern Uganda to name and praise the top taxpayers who have contributed to the economic growth in the country.
Throughout his campaigns in Karamoja and Teso sub-regions, Mr. Museveni, who is the National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential candidate, emphasised that the peace that his government ushered in has attracted foreign investors whose tax returns have been key to the economy.
“After building a good army, we ushered in peace and stability. We then liberalised the economy because when we came in (1986), the buses were owned by the government and the few hotels were for the government but we said let us have private investors” the President said.
“With the peace in the country, we have attracted foreign investors who have created jobs especially through the factories and also pay a lot of taxes,” he added.
Mr. Museveni named telecom company MTN as the highest taxpayer with expected annual returns of Shs701b, followed by Airtel with Shillings 500 billion and Bank of Uganda (BoU) with Shillings 451 billion.
Other top taxpayers are Vivo Energy with Shs423b; Total Uganda Shs399b; Nile Breweries Shs327b; Uganda Breweries Shs304b; Bidco Uganda Ltd Shs192b; and, Stanbic Bank at Shs164b.
Mr Museveni said the government has been able to fund some of the road construction projects through taxes raised locally.
He said the tax collection in Uganda has in the last 34 years of his regime increased from Shs5b in 1986 to Shs21 trillion in the last financial year.
“We are collecting tax which is 4,200 times more than we collected in 1986. That is what you should tell our people. The challenge now is no longer the NRM but it is a challenge of equal distribution. If you send me leaders who can help do the equal distribution well, then there is nothing we can fail to do because we have the money,” the President said.
He explained that his government managed to attract foreign investors due to the decision by the National Resistance Council (NRC) to return departed Asians’ properties, which were expropriated in 1972 by then-president Idi Amin. The government has since disposed of some other properties whose owners never returned to repossess them through the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board (DAPCB).
“I told the NRC that let us release this kisirani (evil) because the Asians had decampaigned Uganda all over the world. Now, investors have come and when you go to Kampala, you see Chinese and Indians running factories in Bombo, Namanve and Bweyogerere,” Mr. Museveni said.
Mr. Charles Mbiire, one of the directors of MTN Uganda, notes that the telecom company will continue investing and putting new products on the market in order to sustain its position as a top taxpayer.
He said the taxes of Shs701b include the income tax directly paid to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Value Added Tax, and the staff’s Pay As You Earn returns.
MTN Uganda Shs701b
Airtel Uganda Shs500b
Bank of Uganda Shs451b
Vivo Energy Shs423b
Total Uganda Shs399b
Nile Breweries Shs327b
Uganda Breweries Shs304b
Bidco Uganda Shs192b
Stanbic Bank Shs164b
URA SPEAKS OUT
Mr Vincent Seruma, the URA assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs, yesterday said the tax base has increased because of the tax body’s strategy to appreciate and reward top taxpayers in the country. The strategy has also extended to recognising top 10 taxpayers per district.
“We would like to add our voice to that of the President. It has been a long journey to cultivate a culture of transparency. There has been a lot of effort in terms of between us and the taxpayers. There is also continuous stakeholder engagement to manage the issues through conflict resolution, which is opposed to staying in court,” Mr. Seruma said.