Uganda: Acholi Leaders Cry Foul Over Tax on War Compensation Funds

Acholi Sub-region leaders are crying foul over the procedural technicalities and taxing of payments set to be made to members under Acholi War Debt Claimants Association.

In November 2020, while addressing locals at the Uganda People’s Defence Forces 4th Division barracks in Gulu on local radio stations, President Museveni declared that Shs150 billion had been earmarked to pay war victims.

He was responding to concerns that he had not fulfilled his pledge to pay war veterans as well as compensate for livestock, properties and lives lost during the LRA insurgency, which he made during his 2016 election campaigns.

Mr Museveni said: “On cattle compensation, we have decided to spend another Shs50 billion on each of the zones of Lango, Teso and Acholi, totalling to Shs150 billion as a budget.”

Although he did not specify when the compensation would begin, he stressed that the money would be deposited on the victims’ accounts.

A few months later, the validation exercise started.

However, leaders claim the processes are deliberately meant to frustrate the victims.

They claim there was no need to condition the claimants to process a TIN (tax identification number) , letters of administrations, court declarations, among others.

The validation form which Daily Monitor has seen requires a claimant to have a TIN number before the money is paid to his/her account.

They must also have a confirmation letter from the veterinary department, specifically a veterinary doctor, who was treating the animals at the time they were stolen, besides proof from police.

Other requirements include a confirmation letter from the area village chairpersons, District Internal Security Officer and Group Information Security Officer indicating the location of the kraal.

Documents Daily Monitor saw indicate that the validation exercise ended on September 24, but many claimants are yet to meet the requirements.

Ms Sharon Balmoi, the Gulu District Woman MP, said some claimants have given up.

“We are receiving multiple concerns from our people over the difficult conditions. For example, most leaders who witnessed those thefts of animals have since died, while those in the offices are quite new to be witnesses,” Ms Balmoi said.

“We are disappointed by this especially the office of the Attorney General which is in charge. During the same war, most of the claimants lost their documents,” Ms Balmoi said.

Acholi War debt Claimants’ Association was established in 2005. However, the association has been battling with leadership wrangles, corruption and mismanagement allegations.

Mr Sisto Oyet Ocen, the Lamwo District chairperson, said this new verification procedure would affect many genuine claimants.

“If the government is compensating people for cattle, they should not tax it. The government was supposed to protect the cattle from being stolen. This is a delaying tactic, which shall discourage many of the cattle claimants,” he said.

Lawyer opinion

Mr Norbert Adyera, the legal representative for the Acholi war debt claimants, said they were side-lined with the issue of the new verification process.

“As the legal representative, we do not know about the new form [procedure]. Many claimants are confused because they cannot meet those stringent requirements,” Mr Adyera said.

Government response

Mr Richard Toodwong, the Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), urged claimants to follow government processes.

“Government money comes through a process, and this money that the war debt claimants are expecting from the government comes with rules and regulations to follow besides, we wouldn’t wish the earlier mess to be repeated,” Mr Toodwong said.

“The President was clear in his statement that money should be paid directly to the individual account. In the past, the association was using private lawyers who were also attaching their legal costs which retarded the process of the payment,” Mr Toodwong said.

He said the tough verification exercise would sieve fake claimants.

On Tuesday, Mr Jackson Karugaba Kafuuzi, the deputy Attorney General, told Daily Monitor that government intends to rid the process of ghost claimants.

Mr Kafuuzi said his office is yet to have a regional engagement with leaders and claimants in Gulu to discuss the way forward.

“Any money paid by the government to an individual account has to be taxed, so I advise them to go to the Uganda Revenue Authority to get the TIN number,” he said.


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Author : Monitor

Publish date : 2021-10-01 06:12:28

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