Uganda: Museveni Okays Income Tax Exemption for Prosecutors

President Museveni has given a green light to the deletion of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from section 21 of the Income Tax Act to provide for the exemption of prosecutors as it is with the police and judicial officers in the criminal justice system.

“This issue of tax exemption came up and I said let us leave them(prosecutors). I told (Finance Ministry) leave them, don’t tax them. Some body tried to argue that every body must be taxed but I said, soldiers are not taxed. The policemen and judges too are not paying taxes,” Museveni said amidst cheers from prosecutors.

“Since these people are on the frontline of fighting crime, lets finish with them and they fail on their own. I have already told the Ministry of Finance that let this category(prosecutors) be exempted and I insist on it.”

Museveni’s made the revelation on Friday as he addressed prosecutors during the 6th annual Joan Kagezi Memorial lecture at Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo, Kampala.

The development followed an earlier request by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo who asked the president to consider prosecutors for exemption of income tax to be able to match their colleagues the judicial officers and police officers in the criminal justice system.

“The criminal justice system works in coordination with the police CID, prosecution, judiciary and the prisons. The centre of all these is the prosecution. Police is directed to carry out investigations, they process the cases and present the same to us. We ask that the Income Tax Act is amended to add prosecutors to the list of those who are exempted from paying the tax. We also want to receive our salaries in full without deductions,”Abodo asked the president.

She noted that exempting their salaries from income tax deductions will motivate prosecutors to work harder.

Speaking in response, President Museveni said the issue of exempting prosecutors from paying income tax is a small matter that he has told the Finance Ministry to handle.

“The prosecutors are not so many. You are only 300 and even if you expanded to become 800, the country cannot collapse because 800 people have not paid income tax. I know they will pay tax because some of them like a bottle of beer. Once I give them slightly some money in form of disposable income and I have some slight tax on each beer bottle, they will pay me tax voluntarily. Actually, we are going to get more in form of consumer tax than we were going to get from them in form of income tax. This time we will get the taxes from them in a happier way,” he said.

The president also said government will consider increasing on the number of prosecutors to heed to the call by the DPP who said they are understaffed yet they have a big load on their plate.

“We have more criminal cases than we can handle. By March, 31, 2023, we had registered more than 11595 cases that are now awaiting trial but the reason for this trend is not about ineffectiveness but inadequate capacity and facilitation,” Abodo said.

She said that where the judiciary has been supported by government to see an increase in the number of judicial officers, the same should happen to the Office of the DPP to have the number of prosecutors increased.

“The expansion of the judiciary has put an enormous strain on my office because we lack the numbers. We last recruited in 2015 and currently we are very thin on the ground. I need more boots on the ground for soldiers of justice.”

The DPP said her office doesn’t have presence in 54 districts in the country representing 60% of national coverage, a situation she partly attributed to under-staffing.