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Religious materials importation to attract new taxation in Uganda.

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Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has insisted on taxing religious material imported into the country, According to reports on Tuesday

The move has been met by resistance from the two main religious groups in the country – Christians and Muslims. It follows a plan by government months back, to tax social media.



An umbrella body for religious groups, the inter-Religious Council of Uganda said even if taxes were to be imposed, the current 18% Value Added Tax (VAT) on such materials was ‘erroneous.’

“These items are not meant for profit; so, it is erroneous to tax them. Prayer books are supposed to strengthen the spiritual nourishment of individuals,” Joshua Kitakule, Secretary-General of the Council said.

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Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) boss, Doris Akol, is on record to have said the failure to tax the religious materials over the years was an ‘anomaly,’ and they were working to fix it with the latest move.

“We understand that Value-Added Tax (VAT) has in the past not been paid on the said Bibles, prayer books and hymn books. This was an anomaly,” she wrote in an April 19 letter to the Anglican Church’s request for tax exemption on a consignment.

The Church of Uganda (CoU) had to settle an 8.9 million shilling tax to be able to clear a consignment of over 9,000 prayer and hymn books imported from Nairobi, Kenya.

According to the Daily Monitor, nine out of every 10 Ugandans are either Christians or Muslims. Hence the proposed tax would eventually affect the prices of these religious materials. Whiles the government could raise substantial revenues from taxes on religious materials.

Mr Ramathan Mugalu, the secretary general of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, is quoted as calling on President Museveni to enforce a directive he made that all imported prayer materials that are not for sale should not be taxed.

“This government has gone too far in its collection of taxes. How can you tax the word of God? It should instead come in to assist in publishing these materials,” Mr Mugalu bemoaned.

A ministry of finance spokesperson, however, defends the move stressing that it was part of efforts to widen the country’s tax base.

“It is not uncommon for URA to bring to the fold persons, items and entities within tax base. It is its mandate to implement tax collection, URA is not a monster; it is their mandate to engage with the affected entities,” Jim Mugunga said.

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Motherland News

Ghana: video of police assault on nursing mother goes viral

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Ghana’s social media space – Facebook and Twitter – has been buzzing with a call for the arrest of a police officer for assaulting a nursing mother.

A viral video shows the said officer in what starts like a tussle with the woman in a banking hall. Subsequently, he is seen hitting the woman with an umbrella, punching and slapping her on the face.

Reports indicated that the woman, a client of the savings and loans company, where the incident occured had arrived when the company had closed.

She ostensibly got in despite the close of business and refused to leave till she could withdraw a sum of 250 cedis ($50). Social media users are calling for the immediate arrest of the police officer. 

Local media portals also report that the police heirachy has confirmed that a probe had been opened into the alleged incident and that due process was going to be pursued.

The video continues to be widely shared on Facebook with some prominent media personalities joining the calls for justice for the woman.

 

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Motherland News

Trump extends Somali immigrants’ stay in US

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Somalis living in the United States under protected status have been given permission by the Trump administration to remain in the country for at least another 18 months, because of ongoing violence in the North African nation.

At least 500 Somalis in the United States with Temporary Protected Status will be able to re-register for an extension of their status through March 17, 2020, according to a Thursday statement from the Department of Homeland Security. The status grants beneficiaries the ability to legally work while they are in the United States.

 

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