Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Biting the hand that taxes you

SECOND FLOOR - The Uganda Revenue Authority has cancelled a supplement it had earlier planned to run with Daily Monitor over a story that ran on Monday quoting a Transparency International report that listed URA as the most corrupt tax body in the region.

I can see why the folks at URA would be unhappy with them being picked on out of a report that lists other organisations including the police force (which is the most corrupt but everyone knows that so it is not news). I also can see that there was a bit of editorialising in the story, insufficient context (especially of the reforms undertaken to clean up URA) but I cannot understand the high-handed action - coming as it did amidst the license plate scandal.

Not only is it a case of attacking the messenger and ignoring the message, I am a bit tiffed that URA could choose to use 'taxpayer's' money to fight well, taxpayers. For all our faults, we, too pay tax -- we just filed the end-year financials.

There is a press conference tomorrow where expect a large dose of Monitor bashing. I don't know how it will be resolved (I will try to keep you posted) but how is this for an example of the commercial threat to independent journalism?

Thoughts on a postcard...


3 Comments:

Blogger Esquire of the mountain said...

indeed this is a case of the URA choosing to focus on the messenger instead of what its doing to address the problems! but oh well...someone's gonna face the wrath if not the story author(i guess transparency is "untouchable") and so monitor gets it!

2:20 pm  
Blogger wesonga said...

Monitor Publications Ltd should write a follow-up on the Transparency International (TI) report that ranked Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) as the most corrupt East African tax body.

The lead paragraph - and it should on the right-hand column of Page One - should read "URA bans Monitor adverts"

That would do URA more damage than the Transparency International (TI) report, and the damage they assume URA will do to Monitor's sales. In fact, many people just flip over the adverts, unless they are attention grabbing.

Think about it; how many people will gloat because a government body has 'punished' an independent watchdog for informing them?

Instead, many will be annoyed to learn that the watchdog is being punished for publishing their perceptions of the body, which views were collected by a disinterested international entity.

URA is using the same tricks the central government once used - banning parastatals or government departments from placing adverts in the then The Monitor (now Daily Monitor).

What happened to Jesus Christ's sermon about forgiving those who wrong you? President Museveni once said he had staffed URA with the so-called born-again brothers and sisters. They must practice Christ's Christian dictum. They must live it, not just broadcast it.

Anyway, somebody should tell URA that a section of the audience they try to reach with their adverts are loyal Daily Monitor readers. It would be imprudent to forsake this audience just to make a point.

Even the context of improvements to institute integrity in URA is not fresh. URA started that Integrity programme many years back. So do not mollify the URA advertising and Public Relations team.

The context - where space is a premium and people do not have much leisure time to read - you will appreciate that different people define context differently.

The media can only attempt to take a middle position, if at all it can be determined easily, and highlight it.

To sum up, URA should be assuaged by the story that says "URA disputes corruption ranking"

3:34 pm  
Blogger Joshua Masinde said...

URA, in cancelling the supplement, was justifying their mighty corruption.
They should have taken TI head-on rather than exposing their naivity in 'punishing' the innocent messenger.

1:06 pm  

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