By Peter Ssebulime
Kampala: In a bid to achieve tax justice in Uganda, students from various institutions of higher learning have urged government to be gender responsive through considering tax exemptions on women in the informal sector, so as to enable them generate income and attract more women to pay better taxes when they start up businesses.
Students, who on Monday gathered at Makerere University during a Youth Policy Village organized by Civil Society organizations led by Youth Justice Network, Action Aid and Akina Mama wa Africa, discussed issues regarding women social, economic, and political aspects, saying that women are most affected by taxes due to their responsibilities and poverty levels.
The conference was held under the theme: “4th global days of action for tax justice for women rights: making taxes work for women, taxing for gender equality.”
A representative from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Barbra Mahone Kasibante, informed the youth that URA is considering women in markets and at border posts on their tax obligations through providing stores at all border posts where women can keep their merchandise so that they clear their taxes.
She said that “We are reaching out to women in markets through an initiative called ‘Tax Katale’ and women at border posts are being sensitized on their tax obligations. The aim is to encourage t them to benefit and enjoy services and other privileges in their motherland.”
The team leader Youth for Tax Justice Network, Allan Muhereza, called upon the government to consider women by providing some essential products such as sanitary pads that are basic in their lives, and suspend taxes imposed on such products which make them expensive.
“We want the government to suspend all taxes that result into hardship for women and we know with time everything will be sorted, especially on the side of our women,” Muhereza said.
The Country Director, Action Aid Uganda, Xavier Ejoi, said that it is very important for URA to conduct a survey on taxation to find out how it has affected people in the society, because there are many who are hustling to earn a living like street vendors yet they pay heavy taxes.
“They should find avenues for those people instead of chasing and arresting them from streets, which in most cases end up in them losing lives. Instead there should be fair taxation, so as to allow these poor people keep in business” Ejoi said.
The Youth Policy Village conference attracted students from various institutions like Makerere University, Kampala University, Islamic University in Uganda, Kampala International University, Uganda Martyrs University, and the University of East Africa among others.