Parliament Blocks URA Move to Arrest Tax Defaulters Under Probe

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Parliament Block URA Proposal To Arrest Tax Defaulters Under Probe

The proposal by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to give the Commissioner of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to arrest and close owners of businesses under investigation, arguing such legislation would usurp powers of Police.

The Ministry had proposed an amendment to the Tax Code Procedures Amendment Bill 2021 and give the Commissioner during the investigation to effect an arrest with an arrest warrant; the power to issue an order for interim closure of premises; the power to record charge and caution statement.

However, Henry Musasizi, Chairperson Finance Committee while presenting the Committee’s report asked Parliament to reject the proposal arguing that these powers are bound to be misused bearing in mind that the law of natural justice states that a person is innocent until proven guilty hence putting one under arrest or closure of their businesses while still under investigation may lead to various litigations which should be avoided at all costs in order to save Government unwarranted expenditures.

Instead, Parliament urged URA to work closely with the Police force and the Courts of law in order to institute arrests and investigations.

Parliament has also passed a provision barring authorities from issuing licences to a person who plans to conduct business without a taxpayer identification number.

The committee however wants business who have start up funds of five million shillings in order not to discourage new business or entrepreneurs.

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