By Francis Emorut
Over 100 farmers have launched a a campaign to collect 1 million signatures to petition the Speaker of Parliament to drop news taxes imposed on agricultural inputs.
“You are killing small scale farmers by imposing taxes on agricultural inputs,” said Kibuku farmer, David Waiswa.
“If I can’t afford to buy a hoe which costs sh6000, what about when it is taxed and the cost goes up to sh15000, how will a farmer feed his children?” Bena Atim a farmer from Katakwi asked.
“I am an NRM supporters but this tax will affect fishing. We shall speak without fear and favour,” Peter Okenyo, a fisherman said.
These are some of voices representing over a million farmers country wide urging government to revisit the proposal of taxing agricultural inputs.
A group of farmers involved in a campaign of collecting 1 million signatures countrywide to petition the Speaker of Parliament to drop taxes on agriculture inputs. PHOTO/ Francis Emorut
In a media briefing in Kampala attended by over 100 farmers and Members of Parliament, the farmers said they want the tax dropped.
Reading the statement on behalf of farmers Christine Adong said: “We are concerned about the impact of these taxes on agriculture, foods costs livelihoods and subsequent food security in Uganda. We feel that they are reflection of our Government’s deliberate steps to make it harder for the poor small scale farmers to make a living and access inputs for farming purposes.”
The media briefing which was organized by Civil Society Advocacy Group gave farmers an opportunity to express their concerns about the proposed tax on agriculture inputs urging government to look for alternatives ways of getting revenue.
“Ugandans need to be reminded that very few farmers make it to the output market level as majority are still subsistence farmers with unavailable surpluses,” the farmers complained as the tax proposal on agricultural inputs will also affect small scale entrepreneurs.
One of the recommendations by farmers and backed by lawmakers to government is to scrap tax holidays for multi-national companies as a source of revenue.
Bena Atim (right), a farmer from Katakwi displays a hoe she is currently using because she can't afford hoes sold at 6000. PHOTO/ Francis Emorut
The farmers also want government to ensure tax compliance by the multinationals.
“We want government to ensure tax compliance by the multi-national companies and the domestic companies who are dodging taxes through mispricing,” Adong stated.
According to documented figures, it is estimated that government loses over sh630b through tax evasion.
Julius Mukunda, the coordinator of CSBAG commended MPs who have stood with farmers and have not left them in time of need.
“These MPs are committed and regularly pursue the cause of improving agriculture in this country,” Mukunda said of lawmakers who included Ngomba Woman MP, Nakato Kyagambi, Butaleja M,P Jacob Wangolo, Yumbe Woman MP, Huda Oleru and Moyo Woman MP, Anne Auru
Mukunda noted that taxation on agriculture is going to make the lives of poor farmers difficult.
He said the outcry of small-scale farmers should be listened to by dropping the tax proposal on agriculture inputs.
“Enough is enough we are going to launch a campaign of gathering 1million signatures and petition Parliament to reject tax proposal on agriculture,” he said.
The MPs who belong to the agriculture Parliamentary committee pledged to handle the farmers’ outcry when the issue comes at the committee stage.