KAGADI – A bitter row has erupted between the district leaders of Kagadi over loading and unloading tax of agricultural products in the area.
The tax is levied on vehicles carrying agricultural produce and enforced at the borders of Kagadi district namely; Kyamutunzi, Paacwa and Buronzi. It is alleged that the tax collectors mount roadblocks at these border points to enforce the tax.
According to some receipts seen by theCooperator news, vehicles carrying agricultural produce and alcohol are being charged between shs 100,000 and shs 180,000.
The collection of this tax has caused disharmony among the leaders as the traders continue to protest against the tax.
Yosia B Ndibwami, the district Chairperson for Kagadi said that, this tax was passed by the previous district council following the Local Government Act.
He noted that this tax was being collected by town councils and sub-counties. However, the district took responsibility for collecting the tax after town councils and sub-counties failed to collect it due to inadequate staffing.
“We agreed that the district collects the tax at the border points and we also agreed to remit 65% of tax to the town councils and sub-counties after collection.” he explained, adding that the tax is lawful because the Local Government Act allows council to levy a tax and collect it.
He added that council also agreed that the tax be collected on vehicles carrying produce from the district at the exit points of the district.
The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Kagadi district, Mathias Ndifuna argued that the tax is lawful; adding only that, the collection mode is the one which is questionable.
“What is known is that this tax must be collected at the sub-county but not mounting road blocks on entry points of the district” Ndifuna said.
Some Kagadi district councilors disowned the disputed loading and offloading tax collection at the district border points.
Speaking during a scientific council meeting held at Divine Hotel gardens on Tuesday, the councilors said council has never passed such a tax.
The councillors who included; Busobozi Moses, Councilor representing Kagadi Sub-County, Richard Namanya for Workers, Julius Twesigye for Mpeefu among others say the tax was banned during the regime of the former Kibaale district chairman George William Namyaka after the traders protested. They wondered how Kagadi district had resumed it.
The Councillors threatened to mobilize their electorates and storm the district headquarters if the current district leadership keeps a deaf ear to their concerns.
They allege that the offloading and loading taxes are being collected illegally since there is no contractor who secured the contract through legal terms.
Buyaga East Member of Parliament, Kagadi district Eric Musana Acaali, advised the Kagadi district local government to stop the tax which is levied on agricultural products with immediate effect.
Musana says the tax is negatively affecting farmers and business people mostly in this struggling time of Covid-19 where agricultural products are facing low prices in the market.
He threatened to forward the matter to the central government for action saying tax by roadblocks was abolished by president Museveni.
He said that such tax is also going to chase away the traders from the district which may leave farmers stuck with their produce.
“Given the above issues that I have mentioned, I advise the CAO and district Chairperson to stop collecting this tax immediately; if you fail to listen, as MPs we are going to get a way of stopping this because this kind of tax collection was abolished,” Musana warned.
Buyaga West MP Barnabasi Tinkasimiire and Kagadi district Woman MP Jennipher Mbabazi also protested that mode of tax collection.
They ordered Kagadi district local government authorities to immediately halt this road block tax collection, adding that this kind of tax is indirectly suffocating the local farmer.
“I do not see any viable reason why this current Kagadi district local government leadership led by Ndibwami should go ahead collecting such a tax; this primitive and ancient form of collecting tax which was last seen in President Idi Amin’s regime must stop,” said Tinkasimiire.
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