By Francis Emorut
MITYANA - Over 1,500 farmers from Mityana district have appended their signatures in one million-signature campaign to have taxes on agricultural inputs dropped.
Two weeks ago a campaign was launched by over 200 farmers and some MPs to petition the Speaker of Parliament to have taxes on agricultural inputs scrapped.
The farmers hailed from several districts including, among others, Katakwi, Kibuku, Kabarole, Kibale, Pallisa, Mbale and Lira.
Margaret Nanyonjo, who represented farmers from Mityana district, read a statement urging government to revisit the tax proposals on agricultural inputs, saying it hurts the poor farmers.
“We therefore urge Parliament to reject the proposals to tax and terminate VAT exemptions on agricultural inputs.
“We advise government to look to alternative ways of generating revenue to fund the national budget,” she told district councilors, farmers and Mityana Woman MP Sylvia Senabulya.
Last week legislators also vowed to intensify the one million signature campaign to have taxes dropped on agricultural inputs.
The Mityana farmers presented their petition to their area MP at Busimbi sub-county headquarters in Mityana on Friday.
A youth farmer, George Ndyanabo, urged government to put more funds in the agriculture, health and education sectors instead of taxing poor farmers.
Mityana Woman MP Sylvia Senabulya (left) receiving the signatures of farmers from Carol Namagembe the communications officer of CSBAG. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
The farmers argued that commercial farmers who make profits should instead be the ones taxed.
“We are of the view that taxes need to be imposed at the output level and on profit-making agribusinesses so that it targets the commercial farmers who earn large profits in agriculture,” Nanyonjo stated in the farmers statement.
MP Senabulya signed the petition in front of the small-holder farmers and pledged to join other MPs in the campaign to have taxes dropped.
“The country can’t develop when taxes are imposed on poor farmers,” she told farmers.
She appealed to government to look for alternative avenues where to generate revenue for the national budget.
Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka, while reading the budget on June 12, introduced taxes on agricultural inputs, something that has since drawn wide condemnation from the public.
Ali Busulwa, who is also a farmer, said taxes on fertilizers, pesticides and hoes are going to cripple poor farmers as they will not be able to afford and fend for their families.
Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group’s communication officer, Carol Namagembe, advised farmers not to lose hope because there is still time until the budget is adopted – August 30.