The tax collector Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has commenced its preparations for this year’s Tax Payers Appreciation Week set to take place later this month.
Every year, URA recognizes outstanding tax payers as a way of encouraging compliance with tax payment among Ugandans.
This year’s much anticipated edition is set to take a twist with a focus on citizen-government engagement and highlighting the impact that public resources have had on the socioeconomic development of the country.
As opposed to previous events, the tax payer’s week slated for September 27 to 29 at Kololo Independence Grounds will recognize the contribution of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), increase community involvement and link public accountability to tax compliance.
Critical sectors of government will take part in the exhibitions, free services to citizens and topical discussions on issues that affect Ugandans, but also explaining how taxpayers’ resources have been utilized.
URA hopes that the outcomes of the three day events will bolster public awareness and appreciation of government programs, improve government transparency and accountability to the public.
In addition, the engagement seeks to boost service delivery as well as collaboration between different sectors of government and improving the tax payment culture.
Vincent Seruma, the Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs at URA told journalists on Friday that free services including; medical screenings, legal services, blood donation, verification of land titles, registration of births and deaths, tax advisory among others will be given to the general public.
“Many of the Ugandans want to pay taxes if they are assured that they will have good roads, education and health care. This exhibition will give Ugandan an opportunity to visualize what their taxes do but also get to know about what different departments of government do,” Commissioner Seruma said.
“Whenever the budget is read, some adjustments are made in the tax regime and some of these have a limited window. The ordinary Ugandan needs to be informed about this so they can know when is a good time to import or export a certain product,” he added.
Seruma said that heads of government departments who are legally mandated to provide critical information will be part of panels to discuss issues ranging from education, health, trade, agriculture, tax collection, accountability and corruption as well as the policy on Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU).
The three day series of events will climax with an Awards ceremony to recognize the top 14 most compliant tax payers. Majority of the Ministries and other parastatals have already confirmed participation, according to Seruma.
At a time when Uganda’s tax to GDP ratio stands at 14.2%, the lowest in the East African region, appreciation of the value of taxes by the masses could go a long way in reinforcing URA’s efforts to increase its collections especially by winning public trust in government and how it spends