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Expert warns against taxing idle land

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th August 2010 03:00 AM

THE proposal to tax idle land will increase poverty, an expert has said. Zie Gariyo, a director with Correct Centre, a research and consulting firm, noted that that there was no positive correlation between taxing idle land and poverty reduction.

THE proposal to tax idle land will increase poverty, an expert has said. Zie Gariyo, a director with Correct Centre, a research and consulting firm, noted that that there was no positive correlation between taxing idle land and poverty reduction.

By Charles Ariko

THE proposal to tax idle land will increase poverty, an expert has said. Zie Gariyo, a director with Correct Centre, a research and consulting firm, noted that that there was no positive correlation between taxing idle land and poverty reduction.

During the national land policy conference in May, some local leaders proposed that land that is seen to be idle be taxed.

The proposal caused heated arguments, with some people opposing the idea, including President Yoweri Museveni, who vowed to fight the proposal.

Gariyo said most people who live on ‘idle land’ would not afford to pay taxes should the law be passed.

He was yesterday making a presentation titled ‘The Practicability of Taxing Idle Land” at a function organised by the Uganda Land Alliance at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.

Gariyo argued that taxing idle land was another form of land grabbing, saying it would force the poor to sell their land to those who can afford to pay taxes.

He said 31% of Uganda’s population currently lives below the poverty line and relies on the ‘idle land’ for subsistence farming.

Gariyo said there was no such a thing as ‘idle land’.
“All land has some use. The time and reason for which it is used cannot be imposed from above. The decision to productively use land should be left to the owners. Incentives should be put in place to ensure that land produces optimally and becomes profitable for whoever owns it,” he said.

Godber Tumushabe, the executive director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, who presented a paper on the draft national land policy, said there was need to secure safeguards against abuse of public trust by the State.

He cited cases where the Government had proposed the de-gazetting of land in national parks, forest reserves and Mabira Forest.

Expert warns against taxing idle land

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