In a bid to raise local revenue, Lyatonde and Kalungu districts in Masaka sub-region have resolved to tax residents organising parties.
According to the resolutions passed by councillors in the two districts, effective this new financial year, residents will pay a levy ranging between Shs20,000 and Shs100,000, for organising various ceremonies.
The parties, where organisers will be taxed include weddings, introductions, birthday and baptism parties.
Ms Florence Namara Kabahuma, the Lyantonde District finance committee chairperson, says the move is aimed at raising local revenue in the district since such parties are a luxury.
Ms Kabahuma says the district has been struggling to raise Shs170 million in local revenue since taxi parks and markets were cut off from its tax base.
She says by taxing ceremonies, they hope to raise some money to bridge the gaps that were created by the suspension of the above levies which were the district’s key sources of revenue.
“Everywhere you go, people are complaining of poor service delivery. How do you expect to get good services when the district is struggling with funds? Property tax and licences fees are not enough to get locals good health care, roads and schools. That is why we have come up with such an initiative,” Ms Kabahuma said on Saturday.
Mr Nsubuga Munakukaama, the speaker for Kalungu Rural Sub-county, says many people trek long distances to access services because they are not evenly distributed since leaders collect little revenue.
He is optimistic that the new levies on parties will help boost the district’s tax base to improve service delivery.
However, the resolution has attracted bitter reactions from residents.
Mr Wilberforce Sagala, a resident of Kalungu Town, says there are several avenues through which the district can generate revenue other than depriving people of their rights to enjoy parties and organise events.
“One wonders what kind of leaders we have today. Of all things they decided to tax parties yet prostitutes are operating freely. Instead of taxing parties, let them devise other means of getting revenue from roadside vendors, prostitutes, and street parking,” he says.
Ms Noreen Nabukenya, the Kalungu Rural Sub-county Youth councillor, says the move is likely to discourage many youth from legalizing their marriages.
“Many youth are currently cohabiting because they fear paying bride price and arranging introduction parties, the charges will just complicate everything,” says Ms Nabukenya.
Mr Ahmed Ssesimba, a resident of Kikukumbi Village, Kalungu District, argues that residents just like many Ugandans pay various indirect consumption taxes such Valued Added Tax, import duty and excise duty and subjecting them to another tax will be a miscalculation.
“We buy building materials when constructing our churches and other projects and there is already tax levied on those materials,” he explains.
However, Mr Martin Ssali, a councillor for Kasanje Parish, defends that Shs 20,000 is a very little and cannot stop someone from legalising their relationship or conducting a ceremony.
“Even before introducing levies on parties, people have been cohabiting. So, those who want to marry will do so even when they will have to contribute something little,” he said.
Mr Fred Muhangi, the Lyantonde District chairperson, says: “No one has ever admired to pay taxes but many appreciate after seeing an improvement in service delivery.”
He says the Shs170m currently collected is projected to double after the new tax.
In Lyantonde organisers of small parties will pay Shs20,000, medium parties Shs 50,000 and big parties will part with Shs100,000.