Ugandans in the diaspora through their umbrella body, Common League of the Uganda Diaspora (CLOUD) are protesting a move by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to have banks avail to it banking details of all Ugandan citizens and nationals.
Through a statement by their chairperson, Martin Byakuleka, members of CLOUD refer to the order by URA as an “outlandish and embarrassing development”.
“The URA request is technically preposterous, indication perverted managerial creativity and awkward imagination. Politically, the request is evidence of regressive governance capabilities, insensitivity to personal freedoms, arrogant disregard of citizen’s privacy, and a demonstration of absolute political indecency,” Byakuleka states.
The Diasporans question whether President Museveni is indeed in control of the country and responsible for the “buffoonery”.
“We encourage the Ugandan Bankers Association to actively resist this mediocrity and are confident that the regulator of Uganda banking will in his wisdom not accede to this public policy lunacy,”Byakuleka continues.
Ugandan Revenue Authority has written to all banks in Uganda requesting for detailed information for all customers.
In the letter dated March, 16, 2018, and copied to all banks in Uganda, URA seeks to obtain information on account holders from January 2016 to December 2017.
The tax body also requests the banks to furnish them with among others; Telephone numbers of clients, email addresses, Tax identification Numbers (TIN), National Identification Numbers (NIN) and physical addresses.
Also required from the banks is the total cash deposits by each client, total cash withdrawals for the said period as well as the standing balance at the time of filing the content to URA.
Ian Rumanyika, URA’s Manager Public and Corporate Affairs argued that the move is geared at enhancing voluntary compliance to tax obligations.
“We have always shared information with banks and other many institutions as partners in revenue mobilisation. It s the best practice globally in revenue administration,” Rumanyika said.
On whether the move violates confidentiality agreements between banks and their respective clients, Rumanyika said they are discussing the matter further.
“We respect rules of confidentiality of clients and we are working closely with the Bankers Association,” he said.
However, in a reply letter from the Uganda Bankers’ Association to the commissioner domestic taxes, URA, banks have expressed unwillingness to comply unless a similar directive is issued by the Central Bank.
Wilbrod Humphreys Owor, the Executive Director Uganda Bankers Association in a letter dated March, 23 contents that the member banks have sought guidance from the regulator on the issue.
“We refer to your letter ref 1000024189 dated 16/2/2018, to all member banks regarding the above. Member banks have brought this matter to the attention of the regulator to provide guidance. In the circumstances, banks are constrained to act pending directions from the regulator,” Owor states.