High taxes forcing fish traders out of business
Fish maw traders petition over high taxes
UGANDA: Fish Maw traders yesterday handed a petition to the government over excessive taxes they claim are forcing them out of business.
The petition was delivered to the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries by the Fish Maw Traders Association Uganda Limited and raises the issue of export and import duties being charged on consignments.
The Association is protesting the eight percent export duty charged on each consignment of fish maw and US$11 of import duty imposed on every kilogramme of fish maw. The traders are also uncomfortable with the six percent withholding tax levied on each sale of fish maw. They also complained about continued brutality on water bodies by security personnel.
“Initially, our association had more than 50 members who are representing companies, but due to unfavourable government policies, the number has dropped to 30,” said Justus Ssennungi, the chairperson of the association who sees the taxes as unfair, unrealistic and excessive.
“Before fish maw is taken to a level of export, there are lots of taxes charged. You cannot move fish maw in any vehicle which is not licenced. We pay annual licence to the ministry, trading licence, and health licence to KCCA, and many others,” Simon Musana, the association’s general secretary said.
“Before fish maw is taken to a level of export, there are lots of taxes charged. You cannot move fish maw in any vehicle which is not licenced. We pay annual licence to the ministry, trading licence, and health licence to KCCA, and many others."
Musana said that the heavy tax burden explains the low fish maw stock on the Ugandan market compared to other East African countries where he says countries like Tanzania charges significantly less taxes.
“It is our prayer that export tax is reduced to US$ 2.5 per kilogramme,” he said as he proposed that import duty be reduced from US$ 11 to US$ 2 per kilogramme and the six percent withholding tax should also be reduced to “a manageable level.”
The fish maw traders are seeking to harmonise the taxation system, and formulate clear trade treaties and protocols with other trading partners in East Africa.
Janet Okori-Moe, the committee chairperson said some of the challenges faced by fishermen emanate from non-implementation of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, 2022.
“As a committee, we are planning to do oversight visits to some of the landing sites to confirm the efficiencies of the new Act. But also, we need to follow up on some of the specific regulations that the minister needed to bring to Parliament,” Okori-Moe said.
Susan Mugabi (NUP, Buvuma District Woman Representative) called for the expedition of the petition and to ensure that regulations on the Fisheries Act are put into place and implemented urgently.
“Fishing is an expensive business and there is need to sympathise with the fishermen…In my constituency, movement permits are issued on every island that fishermen go to and there is uncertainty on the fees they pay,” Mugabi said.
Meanwhile, Abed Bwanika (NUP, Kimaanya-Kabonera Division), who is also the Shadow Minister of Agriculture urged the fish maw traders to furnish the committee with more information regarding the trends in fish maw business in terms of quantity, export receipts, taxation, value of fish maw, to help them process the petition.
According to an article written by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in 2019, Uganda ranks among the top sources of fish maw in Africa – with 51 percent of exports to China from Africa coming from the country.
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