MPs want House recalled over Social Media, Mobile Money taxes

PARLIAMENT: A section of lawmakers opposed to new taxes want Parliament recalled to debate the public outcry against new taxes.
The House is currently on recess.

Legislators including; Kyaddondo East’s Robert Kyagulanyi, Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga; Soroti municipality’s Herbert Ariko and Bugabula South MP Henry Kibalya kick-started the process on Wednesday evening to have the House recalled.
They need at least 150 signatures to have the House recalled.

This comes after public outburst against the new taxes; a 1 percent tax levy on all mobile money transactions and the Shs200 tax for social media.

The taxes became effective on July 1, 2018 and have faced stiff resistance from the public.
Mr Karuhanga said that Ugandans have clearly spoken that this is a bad tax and that it should be repealed.

In the petition, the legislators have asked the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga to “find that public interest outweighs all other considerations.”

“The situation is currently crippling down small and medium enterprises that depend so much on the internet, mobile money and social media to market and advertise their businesses plus transacting.

This is of critical concern,” reads the petition, a copy of which we have obtained.

Mr Ariko (Soroti Municipality) said the tax should be revised to make the living conditions a bit easier for Ugandans.

Meanwhile, President Museveni has since directed that the mobile money tax be cut by 0.5% to make it more affordable.

The President has also said that the mobile money levy was proposed in error.

“The 1% was a miscommunication. The actual figure was 0.5%,” Museveni said.
The President however said the social media tax should remain because “all the moral reasons are in favour of that tax.”

“The social-media users have no right to squander the dollars I earn from my coffee, my milk, etc by endlessly donating money to foreign telephone companies through chatting or even lying and then, they are allergic to even a modest contribution to their country whose collective wealth they are misusing,” said Museveni.

The directive has put Parliament on the spot, as a rubber stamp, with critics questioning whether the tax bills were scrutinized.

This accusation is echoed by Mr Kibalya (NRM Bugabula South) who confessed that the House did not do enough consultation on both taxes.

“Before these laws were passed, no body went down there to consult, nobody took a study on how the taxes will affect the people, it is not late, we are the same people and we can revist the law for the good of Ugandans,” he said.

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