By Francis Emorut
A campaign drive to collect 17,000 signatures across the country to have tax on Kerosene dropped has been launched.
Three weeks ago farmers and lawmakers launched a campaign of collecting 1 million signatures to petition the Speaker of Parliament to scrap taxes on agricultural inputs.
The campaign dubbed: “Anti Tadooba Tax Campaign 2014” was launched by Namayingo Woman MP Margaret Makhoha and women rights activists who argued that the tax on paraffin is a burden to rural women who use it for lighting and cooking due to lack of electricity.
“This tax will have reaching consequences on many mothers who depend on paraffin to take care of the sick, rural Health Centres that depend on Kerosene to deliver pregnant women, MP Makhoha said.
The activists also pointed out that pupils and students in rural areas would not be able compete with the urban ones as they depend on Kerosene for reading at night once the tax is implemented.
The rights advocates noted that the girl child will be most affected one as during the rest of the day they spend their time to do home cores and only get time to read at night.
“This is going to lead to high school dropout and many girls would become frustrated and get married,” Margaret Natakalimaze, the vice chairperson Hope After Rape said.
The finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka, in the June 12 Budget Speech 2014/2015 reinstated Exercise Duty of sh200 on Kerosene which she argued that it would discourage unscrupulous dealers to use kerosene to adulterate diesel which causes damage to car engines and industrial motors.
She said this measure is expected to generate sh15 billion and will go towards increasing solar energy in rural areas.
But the activists are not buying that argument saying 95% of the country’s population depends on paraffin for lighting and they shouldn’t be taxed as they can’t afford it.
They have instead called upon Parliament to reject the reinstated exercise duty of kerosene.
“We appeal to Members of Parliament to strongly reject the reinstated exercise duty of kerosene and we are appalled that taxes have started to apply even before Parliament has approved the budget,” Patricia Munabi the executive director of Forum for women in Democracy told journalists during a media briefing in Kampala.
“Parliament is not a rubber stump, it is not a toothless dog but an independent institution and should be allowed to scrutinize budget as mandated by the Constitution,” she said.
The activists also called upon government to well facilitate the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to address the adulteration of diesel.
On whether they are against citizens paying taxes the activists argued that they were not except that government should not target the poor but the rich who dodge paying taxes.
Julius Mukunda, the coordinator of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group explained that government to can look for alternative sources of revenue to fund the national budget citing the need for expeditious development of the mineral sector which would generate US$38.3 billion.