M7: URA IS FULL OF TRAITORS WHO GOD SHOULD HELP THIS COUNTRY TO OVERCOME
Video: MoH MESSAGE ON CHILDREN & MATERNAL HEALTH
By Mulengera Reporters
From reliable sources, Mulengera News has always known that Gen Museveni is disappointed over the fact that, much as he is a well-intentioned gentleman who isn’t personally corrupt, Johnson Musinguzi Rujoki, who he made Commissioner General of URA barely two years ago, hasn’t met his expectations going by the performance of the tax body.
“The President is unhappy and believes there is something wrong because even when Rujoki isn’t a thief, things have remained bad at URA. Staffers aren’t cohesive, there are frequent staff departures and intrigue is the order of the day. He is equally dismayed that despite all the good will from him and all other stakeholders, who insist the man must be allowed time, Rujoki hasn’t managed to successfully crack the whip on the wrongdoers at Nakawa,” a senior government source privy to Gen Museveni’s disappointment told us some time back.
That having been falsely convinced that Doris Akol was the problem, Gen Museveni swiftly brought in Rujoki under the impression things would straighten up pretty soon. This, sources assert, hasn’t happened has yet Gen Museveni, tired of borrowing to finance service delivery, remains impatient for results and transformation.
Indeed Gen Museveni, who has been involved in many closed meetings aimed at helping URA improve its performance, has been itching for an opportunity to publicly exhibit his dismay. And that opportunity came today Wednesday at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds where he reluctantly travelled to participate in celebrations aimed at marking URA’s 30 years of existence.
From the very onset, Gen Museveni made it clear he wasn’t among those duped to believe there was anything good over which the teams at URA deserved to be congratulated. Referencing on one of the speakers, a cleric, who preceded him on the microphone, the man from Rwakitura faulted the men of God for being deceptive in their public praises of the teams at URA. He went as far as implying his doubts whether some of the people professing Christianity at URA were indeed saved as they claim.
Asserting he wasn’t in the mood to praise or cover up URA inefficiencies, Gen Museveni advised organizers to blame themselves and not him because if they were looking forward for a guest of honor who would praise and tell them all the nice things in the world, they should have considered someone else and not him. The MC at some point joked about today being Gen Museveni’s birth day (making 77 years) and claimed this is indicative the big man and URA share a birth day but the man from Rwakitura didn’t reciprocate the joke. He instead, by implication, made reference to alcoholism and drunkenness being widespread in URA, an organization which employs over 4,000 people.
Saying those who want to live for long like him should keep away from booziness, the President turned to face the URA crowd and demanded to see the hands of those who are addicted to the bottle. No hand went up prompting the H.E. to wonder why people many consider to be practicing Christians could be so deceptive and untruthful. Next was the photo session to which Gen Museveni responded by reluctantly joining Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and other heavy weights before driving out of Kololo. Even when this was supposed to be a good day for happiness, Gen Museveni remained pensive and cut the demeanor of a very displeasured man throughout the photo session.
WHY ALL THIS ANGER
In his speech, Gen Museveni (who also several times caught the URA boss off guard on a number of things including figures on the evolution of tax administration) revealed the cause of his unhappiness towards URA. He said his government was condemned to perpetual borrowing largely because of URA’s ineptness which he said last FY saw them collect only Shs19trn where much more was expected.
He repeatedly asserted that this poor performance resulted from factors which could be overcome with prudent leadership at URA. Referencing on the fact that it stood at 4% as of 1986 when he first became President, Gen Museveni wondered why the tax to GDP ratio had continued to be under 20% for all these years despite of the huge sacrifice the rest of the country has made to ensure URA bosses earn good salaries and get facilitated with everything they require to accord them an excellent working environment.
He said there are plenty of reforms that URA could embrace to amplify tax administration and collect much more every financial year but that wasn’t happening because the tax body is full of kawukumi (he called them traitors/the Judases) who deliberately don’t want to grow the tax to GDP ratio.
The veteran leader from Rwakitura wondered why since 2006 when former CG Allen Kagina at his prompting procured and operationalized four scanners [called them x-ray machines, to diminish smuggling practices at the border points] only two more have been added by URA as of now (2021) after 15 years have passed. These are meant to ensure merchandize isn’t concealed or under declared by cargo trucks to diminish the resultant tax obligations.
“After such a long time [15 years] and after so much loss in revenue collection, today we have only 6 scanners or x-ray machines supposed to man 39 border points,” Gen Museveni sarcastically said wondering why officials at URA would actively work against adoption of such technology tools capable of enhancing transparency in tax administration “so that even myself can be in State House and use my computer to see trucks in Malaba.”
Saying “but my people here have been avoiding technology for reasons best known to them,” the President said he wasn’t regretting anything using what is supposed to be a merry-making ceremony to publicly demonize URA implying he has engaged them privately long enough and has failed to make any progress on the improvements he desires to see.
He then came to rental tax-related reforms and interventions which he faulted the URA top management for actively frustrating for the last more than 3 years. He asserted that there is a lot of potential tax, in trillions, which has annually remained uncollected because a combination of treachery, laziness and Judases has ensured many rental houses remain untaxed as the powerful owners are aided to disguise them as residential properties whereas not.
Furious that even the American PPP partners he got and referred to URA to help introduce the technology that would result into all such houses being identified and appropriately taxed was being frustrated, Gen Museveni signaled URA Corporation Secretary/Commissioner Board Affairs the powerful Patience Rubagumya to come to the microphone and explain. In her submission Rubagumya, who some see as a future CG, inadvertently exposed complexities in the relationship between Gen Museveni and URA regarding this issue.
“Your Excellency the contract has finally been signed with your guidance sir,” Rubagumya indifferently explained exhibiting extreme indifference even when the H.E. was standing within spitting difference from where she was speaking from and the same was being broadcast live on UBC and other TV channels. Gen Museveni interjected “was it after my guidance or threats?” leaving Rubagumya broken and fatally humiliated. She nevertheless carried on creating an impression that finally, all was well. “And this is coming after delaying for how many years?” Gen Museveni asked. “After three years sir,” Rubagumya promptly responded as if there was nothing to be remorseful about contract-signing procedures lasting for as long as three years.
“It’s okay Patience, I have heard your response. Naye Katonda jjali [but God is there],” Gen Museveni said coming off as sarcastically cursing Rubagumya who simply walked back to the audience to resume her seat. CG Rujoki was then prompted to come to the microphone attempting to clean up the mess Rubagumya’s indifference and attitude had created. As Rujoki struggled to explain, Gen Museveni once again interjected attributing all this glaring inefficiency at URA on “dishonesty and lack of humility” among the top leaders of the tax body.
He said he has the full Intel as to why top officials URA continue to be hostile to the idea of the American PPP partner coming on board to help the GoU to grow its tax collection relating to rental tax. That it’s anomalous for URA, which was supposed to do this work and ensure adequate collection of rental taxes, to be the one furiously obstructing the American PPP partner simply because the US firm will take a small fraction of the incremental revenue realizable as a result of their coming on board. “If we can realize Shs2trn and the partner takes Shs100bn, what would be wrong with that? It’s still good but the URA people resisted saying we can do it ourselves but my question is why did you not do it for all this time?” the President wondered.
Conceding to the fact that there is great improvement generally in tax administration and collection today compared to what it was before URA’s creation in 1991, Gen Museveni asserted much more progress would have been made if URA wasn’t full of the Judases (as he called them). Being able to improve from the 4% tax to GDP ratio of the pre-1990s, Gen Museveni said, had resulted from the fact that “there are some Josephs inside there though the Judases remain such a big problem.”
He said his anger, frustration and disappointment with URA inefficiencies had grown to the level that he can’t do anything about it anymore apart from exposing such rogue-minded actors to the public as part of the shaming phase. He didn’t specifically disclose names but kept his condemnation collective. At some point, he thanked Commissioner Milly Isingoma Nalukwago, from the URA research department, who voluntarily stepped forward and helped him to recall certain tax-related figures her boss Rujoki had obstructed him from correctly memorizing.
While referencing on Jesus Christ whose earthly Ministry lasted three years, a period during which Judas Iscariot’s treachery was exposed and decisively dealt with, the President regretted the fact that “in URA’s case, the Judases have stayed for too long but we shall be having them exposed.” He castigated the tithe-hungry clerics and bishops who keep using such public functions to deceptively praise URA bosses and in the process hide the truth regarding their under performance.
The man from Rwakitura, renowned for cracking jokes aimed at trivializing such clerics before their flock, asserted that such clerics “spoil their future for nothing.” He stressed that, problematic as the traitors at URA might currently seem, it’s an obstacle he is determined to overcome and it will become history some day with God on his side as he insists on pacification as opposed to conforming to the anomalous situation that is currently prevalent at Nakawa.
As of 1991 when URA was first incorporated, the tax to GDP ratio was just 4% and the same grew to Shs1trn being collected in 2001 (10 years later) and 11% in 2010-after another 10 years. “How come we haven’t registered much growth today when the economy is bigger and we have more people putting up big buildings everywhere? Why are we stuck at that tax to GDP ratio figure? Why have we stagnated at that for all these years of URA? We have clearly stagnated since 1997 to date and the reason is those Judases I have been talking about here,” Museveni said adding he is optimistic God will help him finally overcome such traitors. Matia Kasaija, testifying about alcoholism, implored the URA team to take the President’s advice very seriously (even when it was delivered very belligerently) if they are going to ever improve in doing their patriotic duty. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).