By Francis Emorut
Members of Parliament have assured farmers across the country and civil society organizations that they are not going to pass the proposed tax on agricultural inputs.
The MPs announced this during a meeting with farmers at a breakfast meeting at Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Thursday.
“We are going to ensure that this tax on agricultural inputs will never be passed because it’s a bad tax,” Ibanda Woman MP, Margaret Kiboijana told farmers and her counterparts.
“We shall fight tooth and nail to make sure that this tax doesn’t succeed,” she stated.
She was supported by the chairperson of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), Betty Amongi who said 80% of the farmers in the country are women and therefore, the tax would affect them and vowed not to allow the tax sail through.
trueFarmers from Kabale handing over their petition to MPs Margaret Kiboijana and Dr. Atwooki Kasirivu during a breakfast meeting at Kampala Sheraton Hotel on August 21, 2014.The MPs assured farmers that they will reject tax proposal on agrictural inputs. Photo by Francis Emorut
Bungangaizi MP, Atwooki Kasirivu told farmers that this will not be the first tax the Parliament rejects after Kerosene and water tax was shot down last financial year only the former to be reinstated this financial year with exercise duty of sh200.
He informed participants that three years ago Budget Advisory Committee which was NRM dominated but later expanded to accommodate other political interests groups was formed and the issue of tax on agriculture never featured at all.
He claimed this time around the proposed tax on agricultural inputs was smuggled in.
“It was somehow smuggled in and it will not succeed,” Atwooki said.
The MPs’ assurance comes after meeting the technical team of ministry of finance and the committee scrutinizing the budget that seem to have backed off in support of farmers.
“Half of the committee petitioned their own and turned themselves to farmers and rejected the tax proposal on agricultural inputs,” Amongi who is also Oyam South MP said.
The MPs however asked the civil society organizations and farmers to cooperate with them to bring down the proposed tax on agricultural inputs.
Three weeks ago farmers across the country and Members of Parliament launched a campaign to collect 1 million signatures and petition the Speaker of Parliament to shoot down the tax proposal on agricultural inputs.
Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka in her June 12, Budget Speech slapped taxes on agricultural inputs including fertilizers, hoes, pesticides, poultry and others aimed at raising revenue for the national budget.
Presenting the civil society organizations analysis of the ministerial policy statement on agriculture, Richard Mugisha, programme officer, advocacy of Participatory Ecological Land Use management (PELUM) told participants that there is need to increase funding in agriculture in line with the Maputo 10% declarations yet Uganda is at 2.1%.
He also asked MPs not to pass the Biotechnology Biosafety Bill saying Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are dangerous for human consumption.
Yumbe Woman MP, Oleru Huda appealed to activists to come up with researched data that will help MPs to argue their points during debate to reject GMOs.
Farmers from Kapchorwa, Kabale and Pallisa handed over their signed petition to the MPs after the breakfast meeting which was organized by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group.
MPs promise farmers, CSOs not pass agric inputs tax