Don't raise your hopes too high for Museveni meeting, Kabuleta tells traders

Don't raise your hopes too high for Museveni meeting, Kabuleta tells traders
NEED party president Joseph Kabuleta | Courtesy

ECONOMY | In the midst of escalating tensions over the new Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS) taxation system, Joseph Kabuleta has cautioned traders not to get their hopes ahead of themselves when meeting President Museveni.

The strikers traders under their umbrella body, the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) are slated to grind their grievances on Mr Museveni's tables on Friday.

But Kabuleta, who heads the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) party, has cautioned the traders against getting ahead of themselves, suggesting that the outcome may not yield significant results.

Kabuleta highlights the existing divisions among traders, exemplified by the mixed responses to the ongoing boycott.

While some have shut down their businesses in protest, others have chosen to continue operations, indicating a lack of unified action within the trading community.

Kabuleta expresses concern that this division may weaken their bargaining power during the anticipated meeting with President Museveni.

Asserting that a change in leadership is imperative for addressing the economic challenges facing Uganda, Kabuleta emphasizes the need for a comprehensive solution beyond temporary measures.

He contends that the current situation underscores the necessity of transformative leadership to enact lasting change.

Kabuleta voices his apprehensions regarding the efficacy of the boycott.

“By the time they meet the president on Friday, many of them will be tired of the boycott after a few days of not working because they work hand to mouth," Kabuleta said.

"They will not be bargaining but being dictated to, and that cannot find them a lasting solution.”

Over the past two weeks, traders in Kampala and upcountry areas have staged protests against the implementation of EFRIS policy, demanding a meeting with President Museveni to address their grievances.

Despite efforts by the state minister for Kampala, Kabuye Kyofatogabye, to persuade traders to end their boycott and engage in dialogue with the government, the traders remain steadfast in their insistence on meeting with President Museveni before resuming business operations.

EFRIS is a system introduced by Uganda Revenue Authority to ramp up efficiency in domestic tax collections.

The system monitors transactions in real time and is designed to enforce tax compliance in such a way that the trader or goods and service seller not only gets the tax from the buyer but also remits it to the tax collector.

Some traders have misunderstood EFRIS, calling it a "new tax", while others understand it but also see it as a system that will make it difficult to evade taxes.

But with divisions among traders and scepticism regarding the efficacy of protests, the path forward remains uncertain.

The upcoming meeting with President Museveni holds significance for the trading community, yet Kabuleta's remarks underscore the broader need for systemic change to achieve lasting economic empowerment.

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