By Christopher Nyeko
GULU: The chairperson of Parliament’s Local Government Accounts Committee, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, has tipped Gulu district leaders on the new strategies for increasing local revenue collection for the district.
Mapenduzi, who is also the Bardege-Layibi division legislator in Gulu city and the former chairperson of Gulu district, gave the advice during a meeting in which Ismael Ocheingel, the Gulu district chief administrative officer, told his committee that the district’s local revenue collection had drastically reduced.
Ocheingel explained that this came after the district’s major revenue sources, including major markets like Laliya market, Unyama market, Wigot Laroo market, and rental houses, were curved into Gulu city in 2020.
The 2022–2023 audit report shows a drastic reduction in local revenue collected by Gulu district in the fiscal year 2022–2023.
The district had projected to collect local revenue of about 800 million shillings but realized only 400 million shillings, something the committee described as an under-declaration of the revenue and demanded for clear explanations.
However, Mapenduzi proposed to the district leadership the idea of embracing large-scale commercial charcoal farming given the fact that the district still has plenty of vacant land.
He noted that Gulu district has 92 pieces of land, citing only Oroko Sub County with 120 hectares of land that belongs to the district.
He implored the district leadership to write concepts for the development partners and NGOs that are implementing environmental conservation projects so that they can attract funding.
‘’Be assured that once you plant fast-growing tree species, you will turn it into a sustainable commercial charcoal business and can export it to outside countries, thereby increasing the local revenue’’, Mapenduzi advised.
The Gulu district finance department had projected to collect shillings 600 million in the third quarter of the 2022–2023 financial year, but it is worried that it may collect half of the budget since they have so far collected shillings 190 million with less than two months to the end of the financial year.
Balington Olweny pa Ongwech, Gulu district secretary for finance, planning, and administration, attributed the low revenue collection to the banned commercial charcoal business in Acholi, saying it was the major source of revenue for the district.
In order to boost local revenue, the district has embarked on sensitizing the community about paying taxes and equipping the parish chiefs with skills for increasing local revenue collection.
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