President Museveni warns against taxing Innovations- 9th November, 2023
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has warned public officials against taxing innovations, saying that culprits will be dealt with, according to the law. According to the President, there's no logic in taxing innovations when Uganda even gives tax holidays to products which are not a result of new ideas. “Taxing innovations? Whoever taxes them, should go to Luzira. Who is he? Why tax innovations? There's no logic because even when a product is not a result of innovation, we give tax a holiday of 10 years. Something already well known but you are putting it here in Uganda for the first time, we give you a tax holiday. Then how can someone tax a baby, when he has not been taxing adults? It is because you have not highlighted it. You bring it up, it will stop, that is why we created a Ministry of Science to specifically bring out these issues,” he said. The President made the remarks today while officiating at the National Science Week at Kololo Independence Grounds. President Museveni was accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Maama Janet Museveni. The National Science Week 2023 serves as a pivotal platform, strategically designed to showcase the milestones Uganda has achieved in the domains of science, technology, and innovation, not only on a national scale but also on the global stage. President Museveni also reassured scientists of the government's support that is aimed at promoting innovations which in turn will help in transforming the country socially and economically. “You know how we work, if we want to do something, we emphasise it ahead of all other things. Recently, we were able to put more than Shs1 Trillion into the Parish Development Model (PDM) program. Some years ago, when we were struggling with the road infrastructure, we were able to inject almost Shs5 Trillion year by year,” he said. “So even here, this Shs 500 billion you are talking about is not a lot of money, we can put it. Instead of mourning and crying, bring the proposal, we shall put the money. We don't have a problem with this minimum funding you are talking about. The Government seed capital which was our recommendation can be provided through this annual allocation of this money,” he added. The President further tasked the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations to bring on board the private sector so that they can contribute an additional venture capital to the science sector. On the other hand, President Museveni commended the religious people for linking God's work with science and emphasising science, because everything is about this branch of knowledge. “Who created the wind? Is it the scientists? It is nature, and nature is God. If you believe in God, you must believe in science,” he said. “I thank the religious people like Bishop Joshua Lwere, for aligning religion with science because this is quite a destruction by those who believe in miracles instead of using what is known. Miracles happen, even me I have seen some miracles, I don't know where they come from, but I don't concentrate on them, I concentrate on what I can do. If they happen, then that's good, that is like a bonus added to whatever I'm struggling with.” The President also pledged to offer scholarships to scientists, informing them that they should highlight the most crucial areas of study which the country needs, then the government will be able to support them. He also welcomed new investors to Uganda, assuring them of a conducive working environment and ready market for their products. “In Africa we have moved a bit, we have the internal market of a country like Uganda- 46 million people, then you have the market of East Africa of 300 million people, and we have the market of the whole of Africa- I.5 billion people now. Therefore, the atmosphere is good.” The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaijja noted that the science and technology sector needs a special budget that will help to spur Uganda's science-led socio- economic transformation. “The way I have seen things here and the way they have been moving in, we need to have a special vote for science and technology where we will deposit money and nobody can cut it down or put in more without your consultation and even the Ministry of Finance,” the Minister requested of the President. The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero informed the President that the science, technology and innovation sector is a key driver of economic development. She said it accounts for 50 percent of the national economic development and that any nation that does not figure out how to make science work for their economy, struggles to sustainably grow. “Since 2021, when you directed the creation of the secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Office of the President and you gave us your vision of championing science led socio-economic transformation, we took this to heart, we took it with both hands and we have been focused so strongly and over the past 18 months, we have focused on interpreting that vision and understanding how science can link to the economy,” Dr. Musenero said. “Specifically, you said we are working to attain a transformed society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country by 2040 if not earlier.” She also reported to the President that as the ministry, they have developed strategies, put in place structures and mechanisms to develop human capital which has an aligned culture that will deliver Uganda to science-led socio-economic transformation within the shortest time possible. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hon. Kabuye Kyofatogabye, the State House Comptroller, Ms. Jane Barekye, scientists, investors, among others.