Ugandan Parliament to review social media, mobile money tax

Ugandan Parliament to review social media, mobile money tax
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

The Parliament of Uganda will reconvene next Wednesday to review the controversial social media tax and mobile money tax that has caused a nationwide uproar. The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga announced the programme after receiving petitions from Makerere University Students and Mobile Money dealers Monday afternoon.

The two groups appealed to parliament to reconsider the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act, 2018 with a view of removing the 200 Shillings Over the Top Tax (OTT), and the 1 percent deduction on mobile money transactions which came into effect on July 1, 2018.

Led by Samuel Obedgiu, the student Minister for Culture and Mobilization at Makerere University, a section of students described the social media tax as double taxation considering that Ugandans are already subjected to a 15 percent indirect tax on airtime.

Obedgiu argued that students currently share a lot of academic work through the WhatsApp platform, a development which will greatly be affected because many students may not be able to afford the taxes.

Abel Eseru, another student from Makerere University said that several students access scholarship opportunities on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms and that the new tax will stand in their way if it’s maintained.

Marion Kirabo, a law student from Makerere University said that many students and youth use Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms to market their products and for exposure.

The Speaker said that she would be convening the House on Wednesday, July 11 so that Parliament can start a review on the taxes. Kadaga said that the Student’s concern touches on the right of access to information which is enshrined in the Constitution and further highlighted in an Act of Parliament.

The students also condemned the tax on mobile money arguing that often, their parents use the service to send them upkeep from upcountry. Samuel Obedgiu says the tax on Mobile Money threatens their livelihood.

Meanwhile, another section of Mobile Money dealers led by Boaz Byamukama described the new mobile money tax as not accommodative. He said that even the 0.5 percent tax being proposed by President Yoweri Museveni is still too much and needs to be scrapped.

Kadaga equally assured the mobile money dealers that the taxes are to be discussed further by parliament on Wednesday.