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Wobulenzi Town Council Scraps VAT on Water

Wobulenzi town council has finally scrapped the 18 percent Value Added Tax-VAT that was imposed on water following protests from residents and councilors.

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Wobulenzi town council has finally scrapped the 18 percent Value Added Tax-VAT that was imposed on water following protests from residents and councilors. Last year, government abolished VAT on water in small and rural towns to make it affordable for low income earners. However, in Wobulenzi town council the authorities continued collecting the tax drawing protests from residents and councilors.

In February 2012, councilors petitioned the town clerk demanding that it scraps the tax immediately. They accused the authorities of collecting the tax illegally for their own benefits and threatened to stage massive protests unless the town council stops the tax. Now, Sebastian Ssebagala, Wobulenzi town council LC 3 chairman says that they stopped collecting the tax effective March 2012.

Ssebagala explains that they delayed to scrap the tax because of the failure by the water and environment ministry to communicate to them officially about the amendments. He however says that they have decided to suspend the tax indefinitely because of the public outcry, adding that, Trandit Limited, the water suppliers in the town council have been informed to implement the directive.

Philemon Balikusubi, the manager Trandit Wobulenzi Branch confirms the scrapping of the tax but says it will not reduce the price of water. He says as a result, they have increased a unit of water from 1500 to 2000 shillings to cater for high power bills and operation costs.

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Residents have welcomed the scrapping of the tax but rejected the new tariffs claiming that it will make access to water more difficult.  The youth councilor for Wobulenzi town council Francis Kiwanuka says that the water sector can cater for its own expenditures without hiking fees.

He explains that parliament recommended the scrapping of the tax to make the water prices low and accessible to poor but the increment will make it more difficult yet the service is a necessity. Kiwanuka adds that only 750 out of 70,000 residents access piped water. He asks Sebastian Ssebagala and town clerk Joseph Ssebudde to lobby the water and environment ministry to ensure increased water supply in the town council before its price is hiked.

 

Zaituni Namanda a resident also asked Trandit Company to ensure steady water supply and avoid leakages of pipes which account for high losses to the company, which are then transferred to consumers.