BY KETRAH JJEMBA
UGANDA Revenue Authority (URA) a few days ago kicked off the third edition of the e-bomba ya business summits with discussions on survival of businesses in the wake of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
The month-long virtual engagements are aimed tipping business owners on financial growth and fostering voluntary compliance. These have been incorporated with skills to help businesses thrive in the new normal.
According to the URA Ag. Commissioner General Abel Kagumire, majority of the businesses which were a big source of revenue for government have been greatly hit by the effects on trade by the COVID-19 pandemic and this has affected tax collections by the institution.
Kagumire pointed out sectors like education, food services, accommodation, arts and recreation as those that have been grossly affected in this era.
Collections from the food service and accommodation hit a dive of 37% especially because the sector is driven by tourists who were locked up in their respective countries.
He however says that the revenue body is hopeful of a change in the sector collections because of the vaccines that are making travels much safer.
The e-bomba ya Business summits will run in series on Fridays up to 12th November 2021. The first episode of the summits has focused on survival through the pandemic with deep conversations on business financing and alternative skills adoption by sectors grossly affected by the COVID-19.
The discussants included; Ag. Commissioner General Abel Kagumire, Private Sector Foundation Uganda’s Ruth Biyinzika, the Managing Director Centenary Bank Fabian Kasi and Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Crystal Kabajwara and moderated by NBS TV’s Mildred Tuhaise.
Mr. Kagumire revealed that, unlike the past where the tax burden was carried by a few entities, the authority is to embark on expanding the tax register so that the businesses recovering from the pandemic effects are not overwhelmed
“URA has embarked on expanding the taxpayer register because we know that there are many Ugandans out there in profiting business but are not paying taxes. We intend to achieve this with comprehensive tax education so that everyone contributes to betterment of this country” said Kagumire
Uganda’s tax burden was held by slightly over 1.7 million taxpayers by the end of financial year (FY) 2020/21. However, this figure is expected to expand by 400,000 additions as the authority is set to have 2.1 million taxpayers by the end of FY 2021/22.
Ruth Biyinzika cautioned business owners against unnecessary expenditures as they recover from the pandemic emphasising that all resources are now needed for business survival. She pointed to the need for effective financial management in order for business owners to turn around operations for the better.
URA started the e-bomba ya business summits in 2019 as one of the activities in the Taxpayers Appreciation Month to equip business owners with necessary skills for financial growth and these were held at Kololo independence grounds.
However, due to the pandemic, these went virtual to cope with the standard operating procedures to curb COVID-19. URA will continue to equip segmented taxpayers with skills to thrive financially as it marks a 30-year anniversary. A similar engagement will be held for the youth in January in an Open Minds Forum Engagement.
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