As controversy over Uganda Revenue Authority`s recently announced taxation of entertainment public events continues to rage on, more stakeholders have expressed displeasure over the move, saying the new policy would stifle the industry, which government have in no way supported much since inception.
On 23rd December2022, URA released a pdf brochure titled Taxation of Entertainment Public Events which include Public entertainment events that has players like artistes, performers, authors, producers, promoters, event managers, recreational space owners, bar owners and hotel owners.
URA on this matter quotes the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS that had a report on entertainment that said that this sector contributes 47.1 trillion Shillings to Uganda’s economy and therefore URA states that Uganda`s entertainment industry has a lot of potential to support the economy through taxation of the individuals employed.
URA therefore stated that all persons earning income from entertainment business are obliged to register for taxes with them and urged such persons to get approval of their applications as they are given a Tax Identification Number(TIN) as soon as possible.
URA stated that failure of Ugandan entertainment players aforementioned to register for a TIN will mean that such persons are liable to a fine not exceeding Shs. 3,000,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six years or both on conviction if the failure/act was done knowingly or recklessly and also a fine not exceeding Shs. 1,000,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both on conviction in any other case.
On hearing such developments, Ugandan entertainment/art leaders are divided as some are in support of URA`s move as others are saying that it should wait until full consultations and engagements of all stakeholders of the industry.
Daniel Kazibwe alias Ragga Dee who is the acting chairman of National Culture Forum(NCF), an Apex body for arts associations insists that URA should go on with this as consultations were already done in Gulu at the beginning of the year and on this matter, he is supported by Tyaba Charles the General Secretary for Uganda Film Association(UFA).
Charles Batambuze the Vice Chairman of NCF clarifies that URA wasn’t in Gulu though the issue of taxation and sector contribution was widely discussed, he advises that URA ought to make formal consultations. This position is supported by Emmanuel Mulondo the Executive Secretary of NCF. He adds that URA actually contacted NCF and both parties agreed on holding stakeholders engagement but the consultations didn’t materialise.
Phina Mugerwa the General Secretary of Uganda Musicians Association(UMA) noted that she needed to consult her team members after festive season.
We couldn’t get hold of Abby Musinguzi aka Abitex the President of Uganda Promoters Association(UPA) by the of publishing this article as his known numbers were off.
Following the continued reactions that greeted the announcement, URA assured stakeholders that there is no cause for alarm, saying this move is for the benefit of everyone.
One official from URA said the initiative is not a stand-alone, but a part of the efforts of the state government, to ensure a comprehensive, all-embracing policy initiative designed to resolve all the current challenges facing the industry, such as piracy, effective distribution, productions funding, inter and intra-guilds and associations discipline to curb the all comers and all systems go affairs.
He stated: “The comprehensive policy initiative also encompasses mass job creation, profitable investments guarantee and accelerated rural areas development.