It is very easy to start a conversation with any Ugandan. You simply need an ice breaker in tune with a complaint about what the government in Uganda has failed to do or whatever has gone wrong. You can easily sit for hours talking and whining about things that might not be in your immediate power to change.
However, there are people who have the power to change things in this country. Among those top categories of people that can change the everyday narrative in Uganda is the parliament. Of course, someone will argue that the parliament is dominated by those who have made this country ruins. But it should not be forgotten, that we are imitative beings always looking out for something above us and good enough to imitate.
In Uganda, the parliament has been torn on lines of NRM and Opposition. The NRM are those who are pro-keeping the current government in power at all costs while the opposition is simply those seeking to remove the NRM from power. There is nothing like values. Even when these values are paraded, they are simply excuses to appear like saints in the eyes of non-discerning Ugandans.
The basic Ugandans at the end of the day have nothing major to benefit from either the NRM or the opposition apart from when each of them pretends to care by doing something remarkable to make them look good in the eyes of the people. They simply pretend to care to win the hearts of the people. But what if this pretense would become the truth of what drives their decisions? How united would our leaders be
There are many issues that affect the majority of Ugandans. In the Buganda region for instance the unbearable tax burden can never miss on a true public debate agenda. It is simply one of the main things that affect the few lucky employed Ugandans who have to share their fortune with the unemployed majority who are their next of kin.
Unfortunately, until now, there has not been any movement from either the NRM or the opposition to force a shift for better tax policies in the Buganda region for instance. Not even the Buganda kingdom itself has come out to demand tax reforms unceasingly. But how could they do this without any scientific grounds? You cannot simply argue for argument’s sake. You need figures that can paint a proper picture of where we want to go.
The opposition in Uganda has continued to lament about the poor services while the NRM has continued to give a deaf ear. We should not forget, that the opposition’s agenda is to remove the government while the NRM’s main agenda is to stay in power, there is nothing like improving the basic services unless it is simply a speech citation.
If there was any honesty, there would have been a consensus between the NRM and the opposition on what kind of society we need or desire and what each party regardless of its current position; is capable of contributing towards that cause. For instance, there is a common lie “government has money” but if it had money, would it borrow from countries like China? The truth side of this matter is that even what is borrowed is also stolen. However, all that aside, let’s stick to our issue of taxes.
A simple survey of a few companies in Kampala will help you realize how much the government misses out on tax evasion. But again, it makes no sense to the lucky employed Ugandan to pay all the stated taxes without improving the services that the government offers. If you will need the same money to get most of the services you need from the government, why would you then part with your hard-earned money to pay taxes yet you will need the same money to get government services?
Though the above logic might seem right, we need to work toward Uganda where the majority of the Ugandans are willing to pay taxes. The opposition will obviously suggest a change of government unfortunately this has not been a piece of executable advice for the last 20 years. However, there is some truth to that suggestion. Probably to restore trust among Ugandans to part with their money in Taxes, there is a need to change the government.
The unfortunate bit in changing government is the likelihood for the fate of Uganda to remain darkened by the narrative that the government is 100% responsible for your success or failure. With this kind of narrative, there is a likelihood that the same kind of opposition that simply seeks to change government will stick with us. But that changes if one accepts to lose a few battles for the sake of the better services war.
This brings me back to the issue of taxes. Instead of those in the NRM coming up with new taxes every year that are actually paid by the same people or companies in most cases, I think it would be wise to look into reducing taxes in order to make them payable and bearable. And once they become bearable, we will have more Ugandans paying them instead of evading them.
For the tax reduction to be possible, the Buganda region members of parliament need a scientific inspired debate not merely arguments of “taxes are high, they have to be reduced”. They need to show us how tax reduction will work in favor of increasing the government tax base.
They can negotiate with URA and other stakeholders for a pilot study may be for a year in a particular area so that they may see the possibility of widening the tax base by reducing taxes. In case this study comes out positive, all members of parliament will have the same facts on the table to deduce in favor of the people that voted them into those offices.
In conclusion, executing this will also not be an easy task, since NRM or the opposition would desire to take credit but for the sake of patriotism, I think it is very possible to work towards solving the problems of our societies regardless of our political differences.