Ministry of Finance cuts tax on motorcycle number plates

Ministry of Finance cuts tax on motorcycle number plates

BY Clement Aluma

ARUA. The Minister of state for Finance and general duties Mr Henry Musasizi has cut taxes on motorcycle number plates in Arua in an effort to compel motorcycle riders in the region to register them.

The intervention comes in the wake of recent scuffles between Uganda Revenue Authority law enforcement officers and locals which has seen the latter losing their lives as the officers tried to impound the numberless motorcycles.

The assumption is that those who have been giving excuses of not registering their motorcycles because of the unaffordable taxes will now come out and pay and also reduce the incursions.

Mr Henry Musaasizi who was accompanied by the URA commissioner general Mr John Musinguzi Rujoki was meeting security and political leaders in the West Nile region in Arua City on Monday following a series of bad blood between the locals and the tax collectors.

“Now on the motorcycles, it is not only agreeing on paying in instalments, we have also agreed that if you have been paying shs 1.5 million as motorcycle tax, we want to reduce this by half to shs 750,000”, Mr Musasizi said.

URA estimates that there are over 10,000 numberless motorcycles in West Nile region and if the registration is reduced from shs1.5 million to shs750,000, about shs 7.5 billion would be raised.

Mr Rujoki said “we want to condemn forms of violence no matter who is involved, whether it’s the members of the public or the public officer, death is regrettable no matter who has died, life is precious before God and all human beings, no one has a right to take the life of the other”.

“There is no amount of revenue that is worthy life lost, repeatedly members have been asking why West Nile, we do easements however we don’t see these fatalities we see in West Nile elsewhere, yet in terms of actual taxes, we do not collect so much that we are so desperate to collect it at any cost”, Mr Rujoki said.

He revealed that URA collected shs 22.6 billion from the region last financial year in taxes and for the half year shs13 billion has so far been collected while shs 24 billion was collected from the customs.

He said smuggling in the region kills the market for the goods that have paid taxes, making the contribution of bonfide taxpayers to drop. He gave an example of BAT which paid shs 61 billion in 2018/2019 financial year but dropped to shs 26 billion the following year as a result of tobacco smuggling from South Sudan and the DRC.

The commission has now also adopted new tactics recently agreed upon by a regional security committee chaired by the 4th Division commander Brig Gen Michael Kabango which among others will see operations be intelligence led and URA being adopted into the security committee.

This meeting followed a January 3rd incident in which a UPDF officer shot dead one Moses Acidri and injured four others at Madi Okollo town council as the officers battled to impound a numberless motorcycle. The deceased was a saloon operator who was unaware about what was happening.

RECENT INCIDENCES

· In November 2023, a youthful Mr Jackson Amori, 22, a resident of Ponura parish, Lobule Sub-county in Koboko district, was shot dead by the URA enforcers in Saliamusala, a no man’s land at the border with DRCongo.

· In 2019, a suspected smuggler lost his life when the officers made a break-neck chase of a suspected smuggler in Arua, making to ram in the pavements and died instantly. The locals reacted by beating one of the soldiers to pulp and later survived after he was airlifted to Kampala for treatment.

· In February 2022, angry locals burnt the URA offices in Koboko town in a revenge where one of the boda-boda riders was killed in a URA operation.

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