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Angry MPs throw out CSO activists for saying Parliament is ‘bloated’

Submission of Tax Justice Uganda members end prematurely after MPs are angered by remarks that cabinet is oversized and Parliament bloated

PARLIAMENT | A routine interaction between legislators and civil society activists at Parliament on Wednesday ended with a standoff when the latter questioned the size of Parliament.

MPs on the Finance Committee threw out the civil society activists from Tax Justice Alliance Uganda after they criticised the size of the current Parliament, saying it is bloated and affecting public expenditure.

The CSO members were appearing before the committee during the scrutiny of the Excise Duty Amendment Bill.

The standoff tarted when the team tabled their presentation highlighting the effects of the Shs200 daily tax on social media, something the committee rejected stating that the subject was not on the agenda.

The team rejected the 0.5% tax on mobile money and advised government to look at other avenues of generating income by looking back at the expenditure.

“Check public administration expenditure, particularly the oversized cabinet, bloated Parliament, extensive network of presidential advisors and presidential assistants and a host of quasi-public service appointments such as Resident District Commissioners that undermine cost efficiency,” the CSO members said.

The statement drew anger from the MPs with committee chairperson Henry Musasizi demanding that the visitors stick to the subject matter.

“Don’t ask me for time and tell me this Parliament is useless, if it is useless, why do you come here? Good thing you withdrew it, otherwise, it was going to be used against you. You should know your audience,” Musasizi said.

In their statement, the activists pointed out that the tax introduced are symptoms of Uganda’s ailing economy and goes beyond the face value.

But this line of argument that was rejected by some MPs who wondered how activists expect government to run the country if they are the same people criticising the new tax proposals, foreign borrowing yet are quick to tell Government how the resources should be allocated.

The activists agreed to withdraw their statement and bring to Parliament a new report, but the MPs forced them to “leave the committee room with all their copies and not leave a single piece of paper behind.”

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