Government’s proposal to introduce a tax levy on the exportation of Nile Perch swim bladders or fish maws has today been termed by Members of Parliament (MPs) as outlandish and uncalled for.
Documents obtained by ChimpReports indicate that plans are in the offing to amend the Fisheries Act to introduce an export charge of Shs 70,000 per Kilogram of fish maws that exits the Ugandan market.
However, during a meeting between the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) on Wednesday April 7, 2021, Robert Migadde, the Buvuma Islands County legislator, warned that this unnecessary charge is likely to inflate the price of Nile Perch thereby denying locals an opportunity to enjoy the delicacy.
Migadde explained that fish factories are likely to increase fishing activities by three fold and hike Nile Perch prices in order to maximize their profits with the introduction of this charge.
“For example, if the Nile Perch is 5 Kilograms, the fish maw is normally between 0.2 and 0.25 Kilograms. You need ten and plus to make a kilo. So if today the price of Nile Perch (the flesh) let’s say is Shs 15,000 that Shs 70,000 is going to affect the price by 7, 000,” he elaborated.
“The price of a fish maw ranges between 320,000 per kilo to one million depending on the size of the fish maw and so the size of the fish is what determines the size of the fish maw,” he added.
Chipping in, Budadiri West legislator Nandala Mafabi warned that this mad dash for revenues is likely to deplete the fish stock considering that a fish maw only weighs 0.2% of the entire Nile Perch.
“I am happy the Minister said that they are going to raise ten billion shillings by this. You get 10 billion divide by Shs 70,000 (levy per Kg) and you get 142, 857 kilograms which will be exported. And he said every fish has 0.2% (weight) so you get 142,857 divide by 0.2% and you will get 71, 428, 571 (Nile perches),” Mafabi computed.
Sensing a mismatch, Finance’s Committee Chairperson Henry Musasizi tasked the State Minister for Finance David Bahati for collaborating statistics but the latter instead passed the baton to his Director of Economic Affairs, Moses Kaggwa.
State Minister for Finance David Bahati addressing MPs on April 7, 2021
In response, Kaggwa, citing Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), told MPs that although the country on average exports 500 tons of fish maw, this has not earned Uganda any tangible returns.
Uganda has not earned any tangible money off fish maw sales in China.
Musasizi requested the Finance Ministry to table statistics backing their proposal hence forth.