Members of Parliament are calling for a reconsideration of the import tax on cooking gas to effectively combat deforestation and charcoal burning, asserting that the current high cost of gas promotes forest degradation.
Hon. Geoffrey Macho (Ind., Busia Municipality) argued that the government’s directive on reducing tree cutting and charcoal burning would face resistance unless the tax on gas is reduced. He highlighted the significant price difference for 10 kilograms of Stabex gas in Kenya and Uganda, emphasizing the affordability challenge for many Ugandans.
Macho proposed that the government introduce incentives, such as providing gas to impoverished communities, as part of environmental conservation efforts.
Speaker Among suggested that Parliament use the upcoming budgeting season to explore incentives that would make gas more accessible. She emphasized the need for the Executive to consider lowering the cost of gas and encouraged legislators to lead by example in environmental conservation through active participation in tree-planting campaigns.
Legislators also expressed concerns about the high electricity costs, suggesting that it should be a viable alternative for cooking energy. Hon. Solomon Silwany (NRM, Bukooli Central County) urged the government to deliberately reduce electricity prices, emphasizing the importance of affordable electricity for cooking.
Moses Walyomu, Kagoma County MP, criticized the high connection fees for households, stating that they are unaffordable for ordinary Ugandans. He questioned the rationale behind charging connection fees that some people cannot earn in a year.
Speaker Among called on the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development to provide an update on the rural electrification program, highlighting the need for connections in communities that remain unconnected despite the country’s substantial electricity generation. She expressed concerns about electricity poles being unused for decades, suggesting they could be utilized for firewood.
These proposed changes aim to address the challenges associated with deforestation, charcoal burning, and high energy costs in Uganda.