By Patrick Jaramogi
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has been given a target of sh9.8 trillion in the next financial year 2014/15.
The target is slightly higher than sh8.5 trillion this financial years (2013/14) which represents a 20% increment in the anticipated revenue to be collected by the tax body, according to 2014/15 National Budget Framework Paper.
Uganda Revenue Authority has registered a shortfall of sh331b in the last ten months. This is up from sh270b in the eight months to February 2014.
Sh176b deficit is attributed to the limited profitability of the banking, telecoms and industrial subsectors and sectors. Banking recorded the largest shortfall of sh51b whereas telecoms had a deficit of sh30b.
But at a regional meeting to enhance domestic resource mobilization for sustainable development, experts have echoed their concerns regarding illicit financial outflows.
They acknowledge that illicit financial outflows are hurting revenue collections for East African states.
Irene Ovonji Odida chairperson Actionaid International and member of the United Nations High level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) said EAC governments need to step up efforts geared towards reducing illicit financial outflows.
Ovonji said African states lose about $60b annually in IFF something that she said was disastrous to economic development. “If Africa is losing $60 billion annually that means each country in Africa loses a billion dollars to this illicit trade. How shall we ensure that this is addressed,” she said.
She was speaking at the opening of a two-day East African regional tax meeting held at Lake Victoria Hotel Entebbe. The workshop organised by Actionaid International and Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (SEATINI) is geared towards enhancing domestic resources mobilisation for sustainable development in the EAC region.
Tax policy analysts, EAC revenue experts and trade activists from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi attended the event.
Ovonji observed teh need for the EAC states to reduce the wide gap between the rich and the poor. “The Illicit Financial Flow trade mispricing for Africa grew at a real rate of 32.5 percent between 2000 and 2009 and is still rising,” she said.
She highlighted aggressive tax avoidance, cash smuggling, money laundering and abuse of office as the benchmarks for IFF. “Government needs to know the illicit origins of money, how it is earned, transferred and used. Criminal activities such as bribery, abuse of office, trafficking and counterfeiting must be addressed,” she advised.
Ovonji said IFF is a political issues that needs political support to combat.
Jane Nalunga the SEATINI Uganda country director said that much as some people thing this is a conspiracy theory, it is a corporate takeover. ” The problem is accelerating, the problem is already bad and becoming worse,”she noted.
Moses Kaggwa, the Tax Policy commissioner with the ministry of finance said a financial intelligence system is needed to track out on tax evaders. “The URA, police and intelligence agencies need to detect how corporate bodies evade taxes.
How do we get information from multinational companies like MTN that there is an illicit financial outflow that affects state revenue,” he asked.
This comes at a time when the EAC Regional tax authorities are struggling to hit revenue targets due to poor performance of international tax collections. According to Uganda Revenue Authority, regional performance for March- May was below expected targets.
According to statistics, apart from Rwanda and Tanzania, the other EAC states recorded low targets. Rwanda Revenue Authority and Tanzania Revenue Authority continued to shine in revenue collections with performances rated at 101 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.
Data shows that TRA posted the highest growth of over 20 per cent followed by RRA with 17 per cent, and URA 15 per cent. KRA posted growth of 12 per cent.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) continues to register an increase in tax collection shortfall for the financial year 2013/14.