Fish maw traders protest high taxes, brutality on water bodies

Fish maw

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fish maw traders have protested against high taxes being imposed by the government on fish maw consignments

This was contained in a petition delivered on Tuesday to Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries by the Fish Maw and Traders Association Uganda Limited.

Justus Ssennungi, the chairperson of the association, told the Committee chaired by Janet Grace Akech Okori-Moe, the Abim District Woman Representative, that the eight percent export duty charged on each consignment of fish maw and US$11 (about 41,000 Shillings) import duty imposed on every kilogram of fish maw is ‘unfair and excessive’.

Ssennungi revealed that the traders are also uncomfortable with the six percent withholding tax levied on each sale of fish maw which has consequently forced several of the association members out of business. They also complained about continued security brutality on the water bodies by the security personnel.

Fish maw, also known as the swim bladder, is a white hard membrane found inside the body of the Nile Perch of large fish. It is one of the most expensive parts of the fish, traditionally consumed as an anti-aging health food due to its high collagen content.

Currently, a kilogram of small-sized fish maw costs 160,000 Shillings on the local market while a kilogram of medium-sized maws costs between 350,000 and 800,000 Shillings.

Simon Musana, a member of the association who doubles as the general secretary, cited several other taxes that they pay, including an annual license to the ministry, trading license, and health license to Kampala Capital City Authority – KCCA before fish maw is exported.

Section 30(a) of the Fish (Amendment) Act, 2021 which was signed by the President into law in February 2023 imposes an eight percent levy on fish maw of the total value of fish maw which is exported.

The traders argue that the heavy tax burden explains the low fish maw stock on the Ugandan market compared to other East African countries. Comparative analysis indicates that Tanzania charges US$2.69 (about 10,000 Shillings for each kilogram of fish maw exported, while Kenya has not imposed a tax on export.

The aggrieved traders now want Parliament to amend the law and reduce the tax levy from US$ 11 (41,000 Shillings) to US$ 2 (about 7,5000 Shillings) per kilogram. They also proposed that the six percent withholding tax should also be reasonably reduced.

Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Abed Bwanika, Kimaanya-Kabonera Division MP in Masaka City rallied the fish maw traders to provide more information that relates to the emerging trends in fish maw business specifically on the value of fish maw and export receipts among others to facilitate a review of the petition.

Meanwhile, the Committee Chairperson said they will undertake an expedited oversight visit to some of the landing sites to enable them to interact with the affected traders before consensus is generated to mitigate the matters raised in the petition.



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