Uganda’s expenditure budgets are financed through tax collections. However, over the years, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has continuously failed to raise enough taxes to finance the domestic budget.
At the start of the year, the Commissioner General (CG) John Musinguzi said the tax collections continued to decline and URA had a shortfall of shs 94.80 billion as opposed to the projected target for July to December 2022.
President Yoweri Museveni perennially describes URA as an entity full of ‘grasshoppers” and shouldn’t they be eradicated, URA will not realise enough revenue to fund the country’s budget.
By grasshoppers the President refers to corrupt officials who enrich themselves prompting government to borrow from outside to fund the budget deficit.
Uganda’s debt now stands at shs 80 trillion two times the nation’s economy. However, Museveni has previously said URA has potential to fund the national budget without external financing only if it had patriotic officials, less corrupt and having a country at heart.
Many times, the tax regulator has been in the spotlight with its officials exposed for working out sinister plans to divert taxes to their own pockets through well calculated tax-leakage syndicates that have enabled them enrich themselves while derailing the government’s collections target.
In an attempt to plug the loophole Museveni fired the URA Commissioner General Doris Akol, replacing her with John Musinguzi Rujoki while the URA Board fired other long serving Commissioners who had been implicated in creating tax leakage outlets.
The Rujoki administration has many times effected reshuffles across the country as a means of streamlining its operations but in vain.
SALT IN AN INJURY?
While eluding the URA system installed to curb corruption, insiders say the syndicate at the Nakawa Tower has become more sophisticated at its game.
“They have become richer through frustrating tax payers and now use lethal methods of obtaining the money,” said a source interviewed, wishing to remain anonymous because of fear of being targeted.
The network of corrupt officials is deeply entrenched in one department- Customs- which is deemed the fulcrum of the entire organization.
Customs as a main department has Enforcement which oversees Intelligence.
Enforcement at URA is headed by Dr Geoffrey Okaka while Julius Nkwasire spearheads Intelligence.
In our investigation, we established that intelligence as a docket is fighting fiercely with Enforcement over who controls the ‘eating territories.’
Against that backdrop, URA Intelligence has since deployed informers- who are not formal workers of URA and are neither appointed by Rujoki- to track down businessmen who default taxes.
But instead of doing their job, these informers diverted and are on money making mission, harassing, frustrating and suffocating the businessmen opposed to their approach.
A case in a point is Caleb Kankiriho, a jailbird, previously nabbed for impersonating as an enforcement officer and conning a businessman Fred Kasozi of millions.
This website established that this informer popularly known as CK wields a lot power, moves with security and many taxpayers have suffered his wrath who don’t collaborate. Subsequently he has amassed a lot of wealth and also made made a lot of money for his superiors as the economy continues to bleed.
“You either accept his terms or he concocts a case against you,” says a businessman who has been a victim.
CK identifies container and assures the owner that he will help him or her pay less tax if she or he complies with his terms without going through the official channels remitting taxes.
“Once you oppose his suggestion. You end up losing the consignment. It is either confiscated or pay heavily,” added a businessman.
The businessmen at Nakawa have made noise but their complaints fall on a deaf ear which the top brass are beneficiaries of CK’s machinations.
If he doesn’t solicit a bribe, he will request adamant businessmen to use companies of top officials at URA which also clear good.
Many businessmen and women have since been forced to either quit the business or painly pay CK.
TrumpetNews has ascertained that almost all officers in URA with high-ranking positions own firms that clear goods, which in law is a conflict of interest (these companies will be exposed in a subsequent edition).
Julius Rubagumya, who in 2020 arrested CK, while acting as the Commissioner Customs confessed that the racket is big and is highly protected.
The Commissioner Customs Abel Kagumire was unavailable for a comment when contacted. But previously he told this website “URA is implementing a corruption-free work ethic and as such we are closely monitoring these allegations to put a stop.”
He added that any information that would help the tax body get rid of these syndicates would not be taken lightly.
But he admitted that such cases have existed in the past, a reason a cleanup was instigated by the top administration.