If you are one of those Ugandans very keen on export figures, growth percentages, G.D.P and performance of the economy, you might have spent a couple of sleepless nights lately. You see, there was a rather public conversation that was held very recently between Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka and her friend Madam Speaker Rebecca Kadaga; that conversation has since been named the “Budget Speech Reading”. Many Ugandans braved the entirety of this conversation (even though some dozed through it) and even if Madam Speaker did not respond too much, it can be agreed that the conversation caused quite a stir. For those who love figures and numbers, there was probably a lot to talk about and a lot to lose sleep over.
If on the other hand you are one of those Ugandans who looked on in confusion as figures were being flung left, right and center by a smart and composed madam Kiwanuka, worry not my friend, there are many of us out there. After madam Kiwanuka was through flinging her figures, his Excellency joined the Kadaga-Kiwanuka conversation and flung the figures further left and further right as the rest of the nation eavesdropped on this now 3-person-conversation. All this talk about budget cuts, budget allocations and budget madness should not worry you because as usual, for an entire week I engaged in research; so that I could break it down for you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I shall help you to understand the Uganda National Budget 2013/2014.
Uganda to Finance 80% of the budget
As she glided through the reading of the budget with her eloquent speech, fine voice and smooth accent, the minister of Finance made mention that we are actually going to finance a great chunk of the damned budget. From what I gathered during my research, madam Kiwanuka is trying to tell us to stop being babies and start fending for ourselves. If we have to kill half our population while trying to do this, so be it! If the tax burden ends up sending the poor folks in the village to their graves, so be it. If the budget makes Ugandans go to Kenya in search of cheaper liquor and paraffin, so be it! If we have just 1.5% of the Ugandan population left alive at the end of this entire debacle, who cares? If the 1.5% who are alive are the ones who own property and the rights to life, to hell with all the other 98% of the population! The message here is simple; either you find your way into the 1.5% of the population that can survive this thing or you join the other 98.5% of the population who cannot save for the future because they are very busy just trying to survive the present. Your choice!
Imposing taxes on Mobile Money Transactions
The smartly clad Madam Kiwanuka also said, “Madam Speaker, I propose to impose an excise tax of 10% on fees charged on transfer of money by mobile network operators and other money transfer operators and widen the tax base.” The moment I heard this, my mind quickly went to the campus girls and boys who have survived on mobile money for a while now. If you have been asking for mobile money from your sugar daddy or sugar mommy, you are now more likely to ask for a cheque or something like that because it will suddenly become more expensive to use these mobile money transactions. I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts that cheating is expensive; well, Madam Kiwanuka has just proven me right. Now, if you want to send some money to your other girlfriend or extra boyfriend, you have to part with a lot more. If people are cheating, we may as well make a little money off of them. So kudos madam Kiwanuka for figuring out folks who use mobile money to send money to their extra lovers. Let them Pay!
Introduce the International Calls Levy
We have recently had too many Ugandans going outside countries and calling us up at weird hours to ask if Kampala is still the capital city and if Museveni is still the president. Like many of us Ugandans, Madam Kiwanuka is angered so she has proposed the international calls levy. This ought to reduce the number of international calls going in and out of Uganda! Very recently a buddy travelled outside countries for the very first time. For someone who was travelling just nearby to Nakuru, I really don’t see why this sucker had to call me up at 4am asking what time it was over here in Kampala. For crying out loud, the time difference is almost negligible. Besides, even if you travelled to Birmingham, Melbourne, Cape Town, Stockholm or Juba, you cannot lose track of the time zones – there’s Google! This business of calling people up at strange hours and asking “Mpozi wot time aiz it owva there in YewGanda?” that should end! The international calls levy will reduce this nonsense by all means.
Elimination of VAT exemption on Supply of water
Not long ago, Uganda was ranked as one of the most effective alcohol consuming countries in the world. Madam Kiwanuka, having taken notice of this was starting to get frustrated that Ugandans were slowly backing out of this record breaking venture. There seemed to be more adverts for bottled mineral water, soft drinks and other useless drinks that do not help to push us higher in the alcohol rankings. For this reason, this elimination of the VAT exemption on the supply of water ought to have people consume more alcohol than water. So for those who are up in arms against this proposal, please calm down, take a seat and if you are thirsty, look for a beer. If you love your country you will not shout at madam Kiwanuka; you will applaud her efforts!
Increasing Excise duty on Wheat and Flour
The mere mention of wheat and flour arouses many taste buds (it usually works better though when you add eggs, cabbage and probably some green pepper). For the rolex loving individual, you heard this wheat/flour announcement and broke into tears; I know I did. As I was doing research about why exactly madam Kiwanuka was intent on cutting down our consumption of this beloved meal, it dawned on me that after all, this woman is brilliant. You see, people who cannot cook have relied on the rolex for decades. All one has to do is set aside a few coins and they have something for supper. Madam Kiwanuka now wants you all to learn how to cook. And gentlemen, just in case you have a wife who also loves the rolex as much as you do, now would be the time for you both to repent of your sins and renew your vows; be sure to add a clause about eating real food. This tax is therefore intended to better our cooking skills.
Increasing excise duty on petrol and diesel
If you have been on Kampala roads recently, you will have noticed that this otherwise beautiful city tends to get chocked with traffic every damn day! The reason for this is simple – everyone can afford a car. Well, not really everyone coz I still ride the taxi to work every day. Yes, the car you saw me driving a few days ago was borrowed from a friend who borrowed it from his dad. I’m not sure where his dad borrowed it from but I’m sure it doesn’t belong to him either. So not everyone really everyone owns a car. Anyway, since the majority own cars, my friend, his dad and myself are insignificant. It is both a good thing and a bad thing that many people own cars. It is a good thing because a girl can now boast that all her 3 boyfriends are driving even if they are all unemployed. The downside is of course that if you are a man, you cannot take a woman out on a date unless you are going to pick her up and drop her off in a car that you are driving (borrowed, stolen or hired). According to the brilliant Maria, this excise duty on petrol and diesel will ensure that more people park their cars so that women can stop expecting to be picked and dropped always. It will therefore reduce traffic jam thus making Kampala a neater, cleaner and quieter city. About time!
According to Madam Kiwanuka, the theme for the 2013/2014 financial year’s budget is “The Journey Continues: Towards Socio-Economic Transformation for Uganda”. I have spent a good number of days trying to understand the meaning of this but so far I’m having real trouble. My research will obviously continue because I hate to leave you wonderful folks confused. So I shall go down to the village folks who will have to spend more to purchase Kerosene and water. Maybe they understand it better than I do.
For now though, I shall leave you to chew on this little piece. Stop hurling insults at Madam Kiwanuka for what the budget presented. She is only being helpful. At the end of her speech, she said something like “I beg to move” but we all know she wasn’t begging. She was already moving! So I also beg to stop right here.
Anyhow, here is your weekly quote;
A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.
The Talkative Rocker