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Ruth Bader Ginsburg optimistic ‘over the long haul’ for US

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UMA is an umbrella body of manufacturers in Uganda. And has been in existence since 1988. The manufacturing sector contributes 23% of tax revenue in Uganda and employs
close to 2million Ugandans. Manufacturers constitute market for 70% of Uganda’s electricity output.
ii. 19% of the total export from Uganda are of manufactured goods.
iii. UMA has been following events surrounding the trade sector strike thais attributed to among others, the rollout of EFRIS by the Uganda Revenue/Authority.
Arising from the above, the manufacturers would like to share their position on the above events
as follows,
1) Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS
UMA supports the introduction of EFRIS as a tax collection solution 100% Manufacturers have already embraced the system and it is working for us.
i. It widens the tax base.
ii. It formalizes the economy so that all players in the economy can contribute their tax obligations on a leveled ground.
iii. It digitizes the economy which is a critical factor in development
iv. The same system has been adopted regionally and works well, therefore, we cannot work in isolation
It isn’t without a doubt that we have not faced challenges with the system. To combat these challenges, UMA has maintained a formal working relationship with the Uganda Revenue Authority and this has resolved issues related to EFRIS and we continue engaged for the
outstanding issues.
However, there are some challenges on the implementation side of it.
(I) Challenge on sensitization, implementation and infrastructure: The improved tax collection recorded by URA prompted them to rapidly rollout to other players in the economy. This rapid move, without prior adequate sensitization and education on the use of the system has caused this impasse.
(Ii) Investment in equipment prior to introduction of systems: Relatedly, before implementing systems such as DTS and EFRIS, the Government should invest in equipment to facilitate smooth implementation. This would address and reduce the burden of implementation cost on the tax payers.
(Ii) Implementation penalty under EFRIS: there is high handedness on penalty yet the implementation still has the challenge’s that must be addressed on both sides (the payers and URA) Irrespective of the value and turnover of the tax payer, each invoice attracts UGx 6m.
2) VAT Threshold: As per the Investment Code Act, USD 50,000 is required for a Ugandan investor to acquire an investment license. UMA proposes that the VAT threshold be matched to acquisition of investment threshold for Ugandans.
3) Import Duty on fabrics and garments:
(I) UMA does not agree on varying the specific duty rates applicable to some tariff lines of textile.
(Ii) The textile sector has over 500 tariff lines of which only 47 attract sppecific duties. The specific duties were introduced after a consultative process based on avalable local and regional capacity. The rationale behind this is to enhance value addition on local cottor
where only 10% is value added as of now.
(iii) Owing to this position, investment have been attracted into the textile sector which should not be disrupted by policy reversal.
4) Non-standardized valuation guideline for goods:
(I) We agree that there is some improvement that needed to be done by the Uganda Revenue
(Ii) There are various valuation methods used for customs valuation by URA. UMA proposes that while URA can use the various valuation methods, the resultanttax effect should be
the same.
(iii) For transparency and certainty, customs values on the basis of the basis which tax is computed should be standardized for a period of at least 90 days and published widely for information to the trade sector.
5) Anti-competition practices by manufacturers:
We appreciate Government’s commitment to streamlining competition in Uganda through passing
the Competition Law.
We agree that there is a problem when manufacturers start doing last mile deliveries because they displace the SMEs and the traders. Through the competition lavw, we propose that;
(I) In the interim, Government of Uganda through Ministry of Trade Indusstry and Cooperatives (MTIC) should fast-track the development of guidelines to regulatetthe market.
(Ii) In the medium term, UMA proposes that going forward, the law shouId be revised to create  a competition commission to handle trade to handle trade regulation. (Kenya has done the same)
6) Loss of Uganda’s competitiveness as a trade hub for the region.
UMA agrees that Uganda is losing its traditional export business to neighbouring countries. UMA
has observed that our regional partners under the EAC are using the stays of application window to run away from the agreed CET rates under the customs union. In doing so, they end up
undermining Uganda which religiously observees the agreed CET positions.
This must be addressed in the council of Ministers and theEAC summit for Heads of state.
UMA strongly believes in engagement and therefore these matters can be resolved expeditious through open dialogue with the relevant stakeholders.
The trade sector should be given a moratorium up to 30th June 20244 to allow them run down their stock that may have come in without complyingwith the new EFRIS
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development should drop EFRIS related penalties that were issued against all traders and manufacturers. This will enable the trade
and manufacturing sector to start from a new page in the financial year, 2024/25
During the ongoing consideration of tax bills by Parliament for the Finaancial year 2024/25, penalties associated with the implementation of EFRIS should be based on the invoice value and we propose a penalty of 1% of invoice value todrive compliance.
Deo JB. Kayemba
Uganda Manufacturers Association

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Mawokota mp worried on copyright law delay .




Member of Parliament Mawokota North, Hon. Hillary Kiyaga a.k.a Dr. Hilderman took to the floor of the parliament and questioned Deputy Speaker Hon. Thomas Tayebwa why the copyright amendment bill is being delayed.

The shadow minister for Arts and Culture submitted that in 2022, he was granted leave in June to make consultations about the copyright amendment and was promised that within six months (December) it would be passed.

Unfortunately, it is now a year since the consultations were done and the private bill has not yet been passed something that is bothering creatives in the arts industry.

He raised the complaint that telecommunication companies are doing a great disservice to the arts sector with the way they operate while using content creators’ works.

He also commended Dr. Hilderman for cooperating with the government on this bill for artists to get the bill that will benefit them amended.

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Malawi President vows not to pay ransom to passport system hackers




Malawi’s government is not issuing passports, President Lazarus Chakwera said, claiming it is because of a cyberattack. But some observers question whether such an attack occurred.

Chakwera told parliament on Wednesday that a cyberattack had compromised the country’s security and that measures were in place to identify and apprehend the attackers. He said the attackers were demanding millions in ransom but his administration will not pay it.

He said the hackers have prevented the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services system from printing passports for the past three weeks. However, the immigration department stopped printing passports weeks ago, after it announced in January it was grappling with technical glitches.

The situation has left hundreds of passport applicants stranded. Rights groups have vowed to hold mass demonstrations if the glitch isn’t resolved within days. Then on Wednesday, Chakwera told parliament the suspension was caused by what he called digital mercenaries who had hacked the system responsible for printing passports.

“This is a serious national security breach,” he said, “and although Malawi is not the first in the modern world to be the target of and suffer this kind of cyberattack, we have taken very decisive steps to regain control of the situation.”

Chakwera, who has been president since June 2020, said on Wednesday that he has given the immigration department three weeks to provide a temporary solution and resume the printing of passports. At the same event, he said he had told the hackers never to expect ransom from the Malawi government.

“As long as I am the president, the government will never pay the ransom money you have demanded after hacking the system,” he said, “because we are not in the business of appeasing criminals with public money, nor are we in the business of negotiating with those who attack our country.”

Malawi has faced passport issuance challenges since 2021, when the government terminated its contract with Techno Brain, which had been the supplier of Malawi’s passports since 2019.

In 2023, the government, unable to find a replacement, re-engaged the company on a temporary basis. Still, the immigration department had to scale down production many times because of a shortage of materials or failure to pay outstanding bills.

Sylvester Namiwa is the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives, whose organization is vowing to hold protests if the situation isn’t resolved within days. He said that he doubted the veracity of Chakwera’s statement on the hacking of the system.

The president “should have revealed the identities of the hackers” and could have said more about how communications with the alleged hackers are occurring — “for example, if they are using computers, if they are using phones,” Namiwa said. “Today’s technology is easy to trace.”

Namiwa pointed to reports circulating on social media and a local radio station suggesting that the contractor, Techno Brain, had deliberately shut down the system after noticing improper activity by suspected government agents. According to local media reports, Techno Brain is demanding millions of dollars in compensation from the Malawi government before it unblocks the system.

When approached for comment, Tiwonge Chipeta, general manager for Techno Brain in Malawi, would not deny or confirm the company’s alleged involvement in the shutdown, saying she could not speak with reporters about the matter.

However, some IT experts working with government agencies, who refused to give their names for fear of reprisals, said that no hackers had demanded any ransom from the government.

Security expert Sheriff Kaisi told VOA that if the passport system had indeed been hacked, Malawi’s government needed to ensure its software has since been made hacker-proof.

“There could be some lapses here and there, but every system by nature would have other software to encounter that,” Kaisi said. “And of course the system used by the government needs to be sophisticated.”

Malawi Information minister Moses Nkukuyu told a local radio station Thursday that the information Chakwera presented in parliament came from experts working at the immigration department. Immigration department spokesperson Wellington Chiponde did not respond to calls and texts from VOA.

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