- Published on Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:02
- Written by Cliff Lule
- Category: news
- Hits: 185
MPs have rejected a move by government to impose taxes on condoms, Mama Kits and contraceptives, saying this will worsen the HIV/Aids prevalence rate and increase maternal deaths.
Contraceptives and Mama Kits, which are mainly donated by donors, are supposed to be classified under the essential drugs that should be cheap and affordable to all Ugandans. However, the Ministry of Finance and Uganda Revenue Authority early this year quietly subjected reproductive health commodities to 18 per cent VAT and six per cent withholding tax.
This was after the items were classified under the harmonised system code of the East African Community common external tarrifs, which is believed to have adversely affected the cost of these essential items.
The legislator for Kinkizi East, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, on Tuesday brought the matter to the attention of Parliament when he tabled evidence pinning the ministry and URA as having imposed the taxes on the contraceptives.
One of the documents tabled before Parliament is an August 23 letter, where the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) wrote to URA reminding them of the bilateral agreements exempting them from paying taxes.
“USAID presents its compliments to the commissioner Customs and Excise, Uganda Revenue Authority and has the honour to request the commissioner’s approval for customs clearance of USAID/project shipments as shown below in the Bill of Lading or Airway Bill, invoices or packaging list that contained contraceptives.
Those items are for use by the above listed USAID project and clearance is requested in accordance with article 5 of the USAID Uganda bilateral agreement..These agreements provided for exemption of VAT as well as other government duties and fees,” the letter read in part.
The use of contraceptives contributes to reduction of maternal deaths through the reduction of unintended pregnancies, which some time lead to the death of under-age girls.
Also, the HIV prevalence rate has risen from 6.4 to 6.7 per cent according to new studies while 16 women still die every day due to child birth-related complications. Presiding over this year’s World Population Day celebrations in Hoima District, Premier Amama Mbabazi said government would waive taxes on contraceptives