NRM tax proposals will deepen and spread poverty in Uganda

When Museveni launched the ten point program, I saluted NRM, noting that if it were implemented in full Uganda would go a long way in tackling poverty and the long suffering of Ugandans. However, when Museveni launched shock therapy structural adjustment in 1987 thereby abandoning the ten point program, I warned Uganda that Museveni was going to impoverish Ugandans.

This was followed by the 50-Year Master Plan which made it very clear what Museveni was all about: impoverish, dispossess, marginalize and render Ugandans politically and economically powerless and voiceless. Structural adjustment that was imposed by the west gave him the tools to impoverish Ugandans without being blamed since he was doing what structural adjustment was supposed to do but in a short time which has turned out to be 27 years and still counting.

Withdraw of donor funding for corruption and mismanagement of public funds has again given Museveni another opportunity to squeeze Ugandans even more and will likely get away with it because he will argue that as the international community has been suggesting he has planned to mobilize domestic resources and reduce dependence on aid. But who is being squeezed? Museveni has basically increased taxes on consumers and not producers. This is a deeply regressive tax that will hurt the poor especially the poorest. The rich producers who generally evade paying taxes will not feel the pain of increased taxes.

Ugandans and their friends and well wishers should oppose this taxation. The opposition leaders outside and inside parliament should reject the tax proposals in the budget because this taxation will make matters worse particularly for those already trapped in absolute poverty.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU

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