10 September 2007

Uganda: Country's 1,000 Top Tax Payers

Kampala — FOR the third year running, telecommunications company MTN has retained its first position among Uganda's 1,000 leading taxpayers. MTN forked out sh174b to the treasury during the financial year 2006/2007, compared to sh120b it paid last year. Shell Uganda came second with sh143b paid in taxes, while Uganda Breweries remitted sh101b, compared to sh70b paid in 2005/2006.

Improved tax collections show that leading companies shrugged off a difficult year of load shedding and other infrastructure constraints to remit more taxes last year than the previous year. The top 1,000 companies paid sh2,215b, up from sh1,889b in 2005/2006.

Aggreko International rose to the 10th position, up from slot 19 the previous year. The company paid sh37b, compared to sh20b in 2005/2006.

Finance minister Dr. Ezra Suruma's budget proposals in June were viewed as cautious, with no new taxes imposed on the soft targets like telecom, cement and beverages. He, instead, increased excise duty on fuel. Excise duty on airtime and drinks remained unchanged, while the telecom companies have to pay 5% duty on landlines and public payphones.

With sh174m, MTN Uganda paid 6.62% of the total taxes to the treasury. Uganda telecom remitted sh32b, (1.23%), while Celtel paid sh21b (0.89%).

The top 10 taxpayers paid about 28% of the total taxes. These included MTN, Shell, Uganda Breweries, Nile Breweries, Caltex Oil, BAT, Total, Tororo Cement, Century Bottling and Aggreko. The top 35 tax payers contributed about 50% of total taxes to the treasury.

Analysts say the budget set an ambitious revenue target for the Uganda Revenue Authority. Revenue collections are projected to increase by 16% to sh3.076b this financial year, up from sh2,615.2b.

With no new substantial tax measures announced, the revenue agency would need to intensify tax audits and plug revenue leakages.

In a bid to improve on the business environment, Suruma increased allocation to the power sector and road works.

Thermal power generation is expected to plug the energy deficit in the short term, while the construction of Bujagali hydropower plant in Jinja, should solve the power shortage in the long term.

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