A Cabinet meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, at State House on Monday April 9, directed that URA stick to following accounts of individuals who are subjects of their tax investigation as has been the practice.
“URA was also advised to work and coordinate with the Financial Intelligence Authority, another government statutory body mandated to monitor all financial in flows without having to interfere with the business of banks,” said Frank Tumwebaze, the Information minister, in a statement he issued on Monday .
This follows a letter URA Executive Director Doris Akol wrote to Governor Bank of Uganda Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile asking for a permission to access all commercial bank accounts in the country.
Addressing the media in Kampala, the Cabinet Spokesperson who is also the Minister for ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze says it should target accounts of individuals who are a subject of their tax investigation as has been the practice.
Mr Tumwebaze revealed that Finance minister Matia Kasaija was directed to advise URA to drop its intentions of demanding for omnibus disclosure of people’s accounts from banks as this would cause unnecessary litigations and some turbulence in the banking sector and thus affect the economy.
The Cabinet outburst stems from a March 16 letter from URA’s commissioner of Domestic Taxes, Mr Henry Saka, asking all the commercial banks to provide information on account holders from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017.
The banks have since threatened to sue URA, saying the move is illegal.
President Museveni yesterday also wondered why Uganda Revenue Authority from demanding customer information held by respective banks.
The President’s ‘furious response’ according to Cabinet sources, was provoked by Finance minister Matia Kasaija, who had sought Cabinet direction on how to proceed with the latest URA move, seeking confidential clients’ bank details.
The minister told a cabinet at State House Entebbe chaired by the President that the controversial URA decision had instigated what sources called, “unnecessary apprehension” in the country, and has since provoked angry response from respective banks, including their body- the Uganda Bankers Association.
Mr Museveni, however, wondered who authorised the URA Commissioner General, Ms Doris Akol, to demand clients’ information from the various banks without authorisation from Cabinet.
The President asked Mr Kasaija whether he authorised Ms Akol to meddle into the operations of the commercial banks, the minister disowned the URA boss.
Mr Kasaija told Cabinet that as a political supervisor of URA, he was not consulted and that he had come to Cabinet to seek guidance.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire told Cabinet that some Ugandans had started withdrawing their cash from the banks and were keeping it under their beds.