By Spy Uganda
The Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development has thrown out a proposal by the finance ministry that grants government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) the discretion of setting user fees for services that are considered non-tax revenues.
Non-Tax Revenue (NRT) is charged against services provided by government and payable only when the services are availed for example passport and driving license renewals.
The ministry officials led by the State Minister for General Duties, Hon. Henry Musasizi, met the Parliament’s Committee of Finance led by the chairperson, Hon. Keefa Kiwanuka to scrutinise the new Tax Bills for the Financial Year 2022/23.
Moses Kaggwa, the Director for Economic Affairs at the ministry said that they were proposing to repeal several acts imposing fees for NTRs.
“We were overwhelmed with the growing demand of many government institutions to amend these fees and how it was further affecting the work we have in form of amendments in the acts that we would have to present to Parliament,” Kaggwa said in his justification.
He further stated that this prompted Cabinet to pass a 20 per cent increment across the board for all non-tax revenues but the proposals kept coming up.
Kaggwa added that the repeal seeks to send the responsibility of determining the fees back to the relevant ministries who can then treat them as Statutory Instruments, making adjustments and presenting them to Parliament, thereafter.
He said that this will save the ministry having to use the Finance Act to make adjustments on the fees every time there is a proposal to do so.
However, Kabula County MP, Hon. Enos Asiimwe, in rejecting the proposal said that it would award government institutions too much power and pose a threat of them acting against the interests of the common man.
“We cannot give powers to the MDAs to decide fees indiscriminately and charge exorbitant fees on the ordinary citizens like the recent proposal by the National Identification and Registration Authority to charge Shs500,000 for the new national identity cards,” he added.
Hon. Nathan Nandala-Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri West County) stated that leaving these fees to be statutory instruments means that they would be proposed and brought to Parliament without anyone else outside the relevant ministries reviewing them.
“These fees should be brought to the finance ministry for their endorsement and then to us for review because they affect everyone and we represent the people,” he added.
Minister Musasizi agreed with the MPs’ concerns and promised to review the proposal with his team.