Mayors ask government to revisit the IRAS system

(Last Updated On: 1 November 2023)

Gulu | Mayors from different parts of Uganda under their umbrella “the Alliance of Mayors (AMICAAL Uganda)” have appealed to the government to adjust the management of the locally raised revenue through the IRAS.

During their 12th annual urban leaders’ forum held over the weekends in Gulu City, the mayors said that they have faithfully embraced the automated revenue collection system and that they have remitted revenue to the central government.

However, Regina Bakitte Nakkazzi Musoke, the Chairperson of AMICAALL Uganda Chapter and Mayor of Nansana Municipality said that the central government’s delays in sending back their revenue are affecting service delivery.

“The central government delays in sending back our revenue; this cripples many of our planned activities. We appeal to the government to consider prioritizing urban areas in the appropriation of the national budgets and to adjust the management of the locally raised revenue,” Bakitte said.

Bakitte further said that cities, towns and trading centres which should be the face of Uganda’s transformation and growth, still experience floods, garbage and sewage overflows, noise pollution and outbreaks of communicable diseases like cholera and a high prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Bakitte also told tndNews that though the responsibility of managing most of the challenges falls in the hands of the leaders in the urban areas, there are very meagre budget allocations from the government.

“As political leaders, some of us do not have very high academic qualifications, but we are required to plan for and supervise and oversee implementation of urban plans by our highly qualified technical staff led by town clerks,” Bakitte explained.

“Amidst all the challenges, we have very meagre budget allocations from the government as urban areas and coupled with that is the delayed releases,” she added.

Sam Atul, the Mayor of Lira City told tndNews that the urban leaders are required to implement national laws and policies, such as the Public Health Act, the Local Government Act and others, yet most of these laws are not adequately tailored nor relevant to the contemporary challenges and circumstances that urban areas (leaders) face.

Atul, however, said that the government should consider reviewing some of the legislation in due consideration of the realities of urbanization in Uganda.

“We are required to enact our own by-laws to address our challenges but the process is unduly long and expensive and we have not to rely on by-laws to address the day-to-day challenges of urban governance,” Atul said.

“We do collect our local revenues and remit them on time but you can wait for too long for it to be remitted back to your account for service delivery. This greatly affects our planning.”

On the same note, John Bosco Oryema, the Acholibur Town Council LC3 Chairperson told tndNews that the government sent releases very late which can not enable them to plan well for the local people.

According to Oryema, the central government should allow the local government to have access to their locally raised revenue early enough for better planning and service delivery.

“The last release we received was in June 2023 and up to now, we are still waiting for the next release yet our community needs services from the local revenue we collected from them,” Oryema said.

Godfrey Innocent Onega, the Paidha Town Council LC3 Chairperson said as leaders, they are at the forefront of being confronted by their voters who want to see that work is done with the local revenue they pay.

According to Onega, the IRAS is a good revenue collection system that has minimized corruption but has greatly impacted the quality of service delivery to the locals.

“You have to wait from the centre after remitting while garbage is flooding everywhere and needs to be collected and dumped but where will you get the money to fuel the trucks,” Onega said.

Adding that the local community will not understand that the money is with the central government but will be asking you every time, why the city or town is dirty.

Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda said that she had heard complaints (previously) about the IRAS and thought the issues had already been resolved.

Accordingly, Kwiyucwiny said that the cabinet was informed that the monies remitted by the local governments to the central government are remitted back within one to two weeks.

“There was a big complaint a while ago about the IRAS, but when I moved out, I have not heard about it again because we were told in the cabinet that it has been corrected and that the monies you remit to the centre is sent back to you immediately within one to two weeks,”  Kwiyucwiny said.

“If it is not being remitted back on time then I will take it up and follow it up through the ministry of local government and inform them that these monies are still not being remitted.”

The Integrated Revenue Administration System (IRAS) is an online and mobile application platform that enables local governments and cities to collect revenue through registration, assessment, billing, payment awareness raising for taxpayers, and connecting residents to local governments.

Currently, IRAS has been rolled out in 124 local governments countrywide and these include 9 cities, 21 municipalities and 94 districts.

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