DAILYNEWS UG |Kampala, Uganda|
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah has opened a can of worms, claiming that the new tax on social media and mobile money is not worth the fuss that it has generated.
There has been a public uproar since July 1 when the new shs200 per day tax for social media users and one percent on mobile money transactions came into effect.
Speaking at the launch of the second quarterly report for the rule of law in Uganda by the Uganda Law Society at Serena Hotel on Tuesday, Oulanyah said there is no need for Ugandans to get up in arms over the new taxes because they are considerably small.
“We all know what shs73,000 can do for a year. These are the only direct taxes we are paying and they are only a small amount,”Oulanyah said.
“The good roads you want and the health centres stocked with drugs will not be funded by development partners. Let us pay this small amount to support our government plans of providing services to us.”
The public has since the introduction of the social media and mobile money taxes argued that it will discourage investment through innovation and in turn rendering many Ugandans jobless.
A group of concerned citizens on Monday sued government over the social media tax arguing that it suffocates internet based or enabled businesses, budding entrepreneurs, job searching, talent promotion, creativity and innovation which is an infringement and contravention of economic rights guaranteed by the constitution.
However, according to the deputy speaker of parliament, Ugandans should brave the ‘small’ tax levied on them so that in future they can enjoy its benefits through infrastructural development.
Putting a disclaimer, Oulanyah argued that the members of parliament expressed the same sentiments as Ugandans before passing the bill into law.
“A call you make is more than shs200 per minute and you speak for more than 20 minutes and you say shs200 is too much!”
“Many of you have over four smart phones and you say shs200 a day is too much,”Oulanyah wondered.
He insisted that the money from the taxes will go into funding development projects for the country for every Ugandan to enjoy.
The Uganda Law Society president, Simon Peter Kinobe, however said they would be examining the mobile money to see its legality in regards to double taxation, adding that they will soon challenge the tax in courts of law.
The new forms of taxes introduced by government have attracted a public backlash with many accusing government of not being considerate in bringing it up.
Many Ugandans accused government of deliberately introducing the social media tax as a move to deny many citizens access to information.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) executive director Godfrey Mutabazi on Monday met with telecom companies before reaching an agreement to the effect that government will review the progress of the social media tax after two weeks of its implementation.
“After two weeks, the commission together with Uganda Revenue Authority, telecom companies and the Ministry of Finance will meet to evaluate the progress of Social Media Tax,” Mutabazi said .
He however noted that they are looking at other options to ensure the payment is convenient to the taxpayers.