Taxes Ministry is in the offing and it will be one directly in charge of taxes as the government seeks to boost revenue collection using a raft of measures, President Museveni told Cabinet Friday night.
A source who attended Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe, said Museveni left no doubt that the idea, suggested by State minister for Water Ronald Kibuule and seconded by State minister for Investments Evelyn Anite, was long overdue.
“When Kibuule moved the motion, the president sat up and waved everyone to a deathly silence. This meant it was either something very important to him or extremely vexing,” the source said. “Turned out to be a good thing as a smiling Museveni sipped from his mug and declared that this was the best thing Kibuule had said in a while.
However, in a twist of events, Museveni challenged his ministers to stop sleeping on the job, fighting among themselves or focusing on selfish interests like dubiously acquiring more wealth and land for their relatives.
“You see this young cadre, he can say something unpopular that many will not like. He also beats up female guards in the bank. I overlook his bad deeds and call him and say, ‘my son, exercise self-control and be exemplary out there,’” a jovial Museveni reportedly said.
“When I overlook his errors, I know he will be able to come here and suggest something that creates a firm ground for the continuity of my and the party’s stay. That is him, Ronald. A good young man you should all emulate, not running around to enrich yourselves with land in Amuru.”
However, a big twist awaited when Anite asked to speak and told the president that the idea was not originally Kibuule’s but Abiriga’s.
Anite, who nearly prostrated as she knelt to speak, said: “Your Excellency Sir, the truth is the idea is from Hon Ibrahim Abiriga. He suggested it and we resolved to bring it to your attention.”
It doesn’t matter where the idea came from but that it was a good idea worthy of a cabinet discussion, the president said dismissively.
The Cabinet treated the motion as a huge relief on the President, who has lately been spending sleepless moments even at gruelling summits, all in the effort to think of how best to generate revenue to finance the economy.
Explaining why the ministry of taxes would be the best thing to happen since the NRA capture of power, Museveni joked that he had recently contemplated taxing even meditation.
“When I meditate, even at major summits, that is good for the economy. I use such moments when I am not speaking to think for this country. However, most of you here, you can’t even meditate, you just sleep with your heads jerking like this,” Museveni said, his demonstration sending the meeting into laughter.
“Look at yourselves… okay, Ali and Otafiire, these are elders. I can understand. But they compensate with hard work and loyalty. But some of you are not even loyal enough to the party, yet you sleep. I saw such and contemplated taxing sleep.”
Museveni said he was going to think of how best to make the taxation ministry work for the country and challenged his ministers to stop sleeping or even dreaming of heading the envisaged ministry.
“You come here and sleep, you go to Serena during meetings and sleep. In Parliament, you sleep. But at home you are sleepless thinking of cabinet reshuffle. Reshuffle, reshuffle, reshuffle! What nonsense! Work well and hard and you won’t need to wear yourself into wrinkles over reshuffle.”
The envisaged ministry, Museveni explained, would help streamline URA’s operations given that Finance ministry, under whose docket tax policies fall, was already struggling with too much on its plate.
“Matia’s [Kasaija, the Finance minister] job should be to plan and oversee the execution of budgets, the collection of revenue, planning how to collect revenue… that should be under a fully-fledged ministry,” Museveni said.
“I have noticed that even while Allen [Kagina] did a tremendous job, there were struggles here and there. Now Doris [Akol] is in charge but URA still faces challenges. They think constructing that tall headquarters will solve compliance, evasion, under declaration… but tax is the backbone of our economy today.”
Presidential spokesperson Don Wanyama would neither confirm nor deny the allegations.
“Wait for Cabinet briefing, but all I can say was that there was a meeting Friday night chaired by the president,” he said.
Meanwhile, we shall be confirming with sleep whether this dream happened.