6 January 2013

Uganda: Public Conned of Over Sh900 Million in Property Rates

Have you paid property tax to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) of recent? Check your receipt again. You may have paid a fraudster.

Samuel Nabeeta, a former KCCA employee has allegedly been issuing receipts and soliciting money from property owners on behalf of KCCA.

Nabeeta together with Bosco Luboyeera and one only known as Arinaitwe have been targeting commercial buildings in Kansanga, Kabalagala, Muyenga, Bukasa, Kiwafu estate, Kibuli and Wabigalo city suburbs.

The three suspects have also been soliciting money from churches, hotels, bars, night clubs, schools and private clinics. Nabeeta is currently detained at the Central Police Station.

Police netted Nabeeta this week when he had gone to Kabalagala to demand payment for property rates from a hotel owner.

"He did not know that the property owner had already paid. He was putting pressure on him to pay sh500,000. The hotel owner informed us and immediately we sent the Police to the scene and he was arrested," Jacob Lukambuzi, KCCA's head of monitoring and inspection unit explained.

Lukambuzi also said the same group has been illegally soliciting money from residents in the five city divisions for security.

Some of the receipts seen by New Vision show the public has been conned of over sh900m in property rates.

Nabeeta's arrest comes hard on the heels of dismal revenue performance by KCCA in the first financial quarter, where the authority collected only sh16b against the target of sh24b. In property rates alone, KCCA collected sh437m, about 18% of the total revenue, which is a poor performance, according to the financial report.

KCCA's revenue sources include advertisement, hotel tax, markets, street parking, migration and permits. Others are miscellaneous income, penalties, registration fee and other taxes on specific services.

On the issue of fighting fraud in the system, Phoebe Lutaaya Kamya, KCCA's director for revenue collection said they had written to various commercial banks, about some bank officials who are conniving with some tycoons to evade taxes.

"We have discovered that some bank officials are involved in the fraud. If we get the problem, we shall involve the Police," Kamya explained.

She said firms whose contracts were terminated or expired are illegally soliciting taxes on behalf of KCCA. "We advise our clients not to give money to individuals, but to pay in the banks," she said.

To handle revenue short fall, Kamya said the authority is tightening its revenue leakage with zero tolerance to corruption.

Asked whether those property owners who have been conned, would be excused from paying property tax, Kamya said, "They have to pay the taxes because we always sensitised people on various media platforms on issues related to revenue collection."

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