On 27th July 2014, Civil Society, farmers and some Members of Parliament launched a campaign to collect 1 million signatures to petition the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda urging her and the entire Parliament to withdraw the proposal of taxes on agriculture inputs including pesticides and fertilizers among others.
The one million campaign was launched by the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), a coalition of CSOs that monitors and participates in budgeting and budget advocacy in Uganda.
As a CSBAG member and platform organisation, UNNGOF used its structures of the Citizen Manifesto and SPAN Partners across the country to mobilize signatures through sharing the online version and the hard copies of the petition. This played a crucial role in popularizing the campaign. A number of SPAN partners popularized the campaign through their radio talk shows and mobilized masses support to the campaign.
UNNGOF’s CM and SPAN infrastructure collected at least 40,142 signatures which were handed over to CSBAG which was coordinating the campaign. Some of the UNNGOF partners played a crucial role in mobilizing for farmers’ meetings that were convened by CSBAG and other community meetings by Action Aid in the different regions these include Pallisa Civil Society Network, Kumi District Network, Kibaale NGO Forum, Kamwenge District Indigenous Voluntary Development Organizations, Kapchorwa CSO Association, Kamuli District NGO Forum among others.
The Campaign climaxed with the petition to the Speaker of Parliament on 26th August 2014 at Parliament where some MPs, Farmers and Civil Society Advocacy Group(CSBAG) were present.
“We can do without that tax and I will oppose it until my death bed. How come we do not impose taxes on narcotics and we are imposing it on farmers, Hon. Medard Bitekyerezo, Mbarara Municipality MP
While giving his remarks, the CSBAG Coordinator Mr. Julius Mukunda explained that lower seeds and inputs use will result into lower yields leading to low crop production which in turn reduces supply with implications on food security. The speaker Hon. Rebecca Kadaga noted that the proposed taxes would hurt the country’s economy. She said “I am also a farmer, these taxes will frustrate the farmers but we are handling the petition as Parliament”. She promised to forward the petition to the Parliamentary committees of finance and Agriculture for Scrutiny. The committees shall be expected to report to Parliament on recommendations before the house makes a final resolution on the matter.
This therefore still presents a challenge to all citizens to engage their area MPs to ensure that this tax is dropped however there are high chances of dropping them since the President while addressing NRM Parliamentary caucus recently told MPs that the matter on agricultural tax proposals would be reviewed.