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Uganda govt now scraps tax on Bibles, Korans

The Ugandan parliament has agreed with a government proposal to scrap taxes on Bibles and Korans following uproar from clerics across faith groups.

The religious groups have been arguing that religious materials should be tax-exempt since they are used for “spiritual nourishment” of Ugandans.

The matter came to the fore when Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) slapped a value-added tax (VAT) on a consignment of 9,120 prayer and hymn books imported from Nairobi by Centenary Publishing House Limited, the Church of Uganda (CoU)’s publishing arm.

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali petitioned the URA commissioner general Doris Akol, demanding that the consignment be released without paying VAT but his pleas were rejected, triggering dismay among the faithful.

The consignment was only released after CoU paid UShs8.9m.

Pressure

But the government has now bowed to pressure and supported the exemption of taxes on bibles and Korans effective July 1 when the 2018/19 financial year begins.

Parliament’ Finance Committee recommended that bibles and Korans should be exempted from taxes because such religious books are mainly sourced from donations.

“Nearly all Bibles and Korans which are used in the country are imported into Uganda as donations. This exemption will provide relief to donors and the religious bodies which provide more of Bibles and Korans for furtherance of the objectives of their,” read the report.

The recommendation to scrap taxes on bibles and Korans was given bipartisan support, illustrating how MPs that are usually divided on party lines have been united in opposing taxes on religious items.

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