By Max Patrico Ocaido
Soon or later, identifying the owner of a commercial building will be at the click of a computer mouse after government concluded plans to hire an American investor to map all houses in the country.
The move was revealed by Finance minister Matia Kasaija while appearing before the committee on National Economy to justify government’s move to borrow domestically up to a tune of Shs436bn to pay salaries among others.
Minister Kasaija said that in a bid to stop further borrowing, government has embarked on a move to raise its domestic revenue by reviewing its tax policy on local enterprises especially on commercial buildings in the cities.
“There is a very big problem, people are putting up lots of buildings and we never tax those buildings. There is a good American I have found who is going to come and map all structures in the country. This mapping will be able to show all houses of people and their details and this will help URA to fast-track revenue collection,” Kasaija said.
He added that the move is not to impede privacy, but to help government raise revenue as a strategy to stop borrowing.
“This is not about interfering with your privacy but about taxing every house built so that we can raise about a trillion shillings. We can't continue borrowing and my room for borrowing is nearly getting (finished). If I borrow for SGR (Standard Guage Railway) then I would have hit the ceiling. But you realize all these people are having malls and they’re not really taxed,” he said.
According to Kasaija, the American investor will concentrate on the cities and will map all buildings, identify rentals, their sizes and others.
Asked how much tax payers will part with to hire this American businessman and his company, Kasaija said that the contract has not yet been signed and it’s difficult to ascertain the terms and conditions.
“But what I know is that they will be paid out of the extra revenue that will be collected from the buildings,” Kasaija added.