By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA- SHIFTMEDIA– Women who constitute over 39% of the businesses in Uganda are still facing issues of multiple taxations, Civil Society Groups in Uganda have observed.
Addressing the issues of Gender and Tax at a Civil Society Budget Advocacy (CSBAG) organized symposium at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Thursday, CSOs urged government to implement the Presidential directive regarding banning of daily market dues.
The issue of women being multiple taxed remains a thorn in fresh. Though Joanita Sonko from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) says the presidential directive on market dues can’t apply in private markets. “Some markets are private, some are public and others are for the Kabaka, so regarding the Presidential directive, it can only work in public markets,” said Sonko.
Sophie Nampewo the Budget policy specialist from CSBAG noted that Women-owned business that are tax-driven are affected with challenges such as obtaining licenses, getting TIN, registering for VAT and formally having their businesses registered.
She said that CSOs have proposed a number of reforms to support women businesses including Gender transformative policies, legal administration, and creating awareness and capacity building for women engaged in small and medium businesses.
She said that Women Owned businesses amount to 39.1% of total business owners, of which 33.8% businesses belong to women and 85.6% of women are in the informal sector.
Jane Nalunga the South Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (SEATINI) Uganda Executive Director said the strategic meeting organized CSBAG was intended to amplify debate and discussion of Uganda’s tax policies, and their effectiveness on gender issues.
“We need to put a cap on what exactly needs to be taxed. We can say below this amount women are exempted from paying tax,” said Nalunga.
The CSOs were attending a breakfast Strategic meeting on Gender Sensitive Tax policies that support Women Businesses.
Nalunga urged the CSOs to steadily put needed reforms that will support women businesses ahead of the tax proposal debate in Parliament in May.
Faith Lumonya from Akina Mama Wa Afrika commended the government for the efforts in proving funds for women through Emyogga though she described it as “insufficient”.
“Accessing this funds still remain a hurdle, and should be simplified so as to see many women access it,” she said.
Joanita Nasuuna the Women and Economic Justice Expert at SEATINI said much as taxes are heaped on women, most facilities in markets don’t have the capacity to support mothers. “We recommend that instead of government giving out these small loans, they should instead inject money in KCCA markets to make businesses for mothers easy. Many women sleep on the floor, they need to appreciate what their taxes do,” said Nasuuna.
She said that it is sad that amidst the Covid 19 shock and recovery, URA is still introducing taxes that is making it difficult for women to conduct business.
However Kevin Seninde an official from URA said there is a threshold for tax incentives, and such incentives are based on the law. “Without evidence, it makes it so hard for women to benefit from such incentives,” said Seninde. He urged women to formalize their businesses and approach URA for tax incentives.
Farida Bahemuka from the Ministry of Finance said tax exemptions are in the law that are passed by parliament. She urged URA to continuously sensitise people regarding E-invoicing. “Consumption taxes are mainly on items women are buying and by doing this, women pay more VAT. We need to find ways of supporting women so as to ensure their security.
The meeting is a precursor to the call by Government to different stakeholders to provide input into the new tax measures that can promote economic growth. CSBAG in collaboration with UNWOMEN has developed an issue brief that contain key alternative tax proposals that the Government can adopt to support women businesses for implementation in FY 2021/22.