Museveni directs Uganda tax agency to monitor all calls, money transactions

Uganda

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wants the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to monitor all calls made and received within the country for tax purposes.

The president says Uganda has been losing billions of shillings in revenue for years from the telecommunication companies under-declaring the number of calls their subscribers make.

This, according to President Museveni, means the telecommunication firms have been paying less taxes than what they should actually be remitting.

He now wants URA to monitor all the calls and the records used to determine the rightful taxes that the telecommunication firms should pay.

Persisted for long

Without mentioning any specific telecommunication company, the President directed that such evasion (under-declaration) should be nipped in the bud with technology.

He argues that the vice has persisted for so long is because it has always been up to the telecommunication companies to declare what they think is due to government coffers rather than the other way round.

“Telephone calls should be electronically monitored because telecommunication companies have been under declaring calls,” President Museveni said at the closure of the first Science Model Workshop hosted by URA last Friday in Kampala.

He continued: “Tax collectors would depend on the telecommunication companies who would under declare. For example if 5 million calls have been made, they would declare 3 million.

“Some of them would even treat calls from abroad as local calls because East Africa has one network area. So they must be monitored electronically.”

Already monitored

However, Daily Monitor has established that beginning this financial year, all calls are already being electronically monitored after the government procured the equipment to do so.

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URA Commissioner for Investigations Patrick Mukiibi in an interview confirmed that the government is already monitoring all calls made and that the records of that will be used to determine the tax that the telecom companies should pay.

The president further proposed several ways on how science can be applied to enhance compliance, including directing that all the country’s entry and exit points be installed with scanners that detect undeclared goods which results in revenue loss.

He also directed that electronic monitoring should also be applied to money transfer as it is another area where government can tap revenue.

With the number of mobile money subscribers increasing from 2.8 million in 2011 to 23 million in 2017, Mr Museveni said it does no harm if a small percentage of that is taxed to provide the much needed security and other social goods.

According to the Ministry of Finance statistics, active telephone subscribers are now 22.4 million, with the phone penetration (teledensity) growing by 53 per cent in 2015 to 66.9 million as of last year — 2017.