Government to review Mobile money, social media taxes

Government has succumbed to pressure and agreed to table a bill in Parliament next week, to review the controversial taxes on mobile money and social media.

In a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said that government had paid attention to public discussion about the taxes which came into effect on July 1.

“Since the Act came into force on July 1, government has noted public concerns regarding some of the elements in implementation of especially tax on mobile money transactions and Over the top (OTT) services,” Rugunda said.

Rugunda alluded to President Yoweri Museveni’s recent statement on the tax, telling Parliament that discussions were on with a view of reaching consensus on how to raise the much-needed revenue to finance the national budget.

“Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the
concerns of the public and its implications on the budget. The review is being expedited to ensure that government presents an Amendment of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2Ol8 to this House for debate on Thursday next week,” Rugunda said.

“Honourable Members will, therefore, have the opportunity to debate and consult widely so as to make an appropriate decision during the consideration and debate of the Amendment Bill,” the Prime Minister added.

He said that government is working towards ensuring that tax on mobile money and social media are designed taking into account the public concerns and balancing the need to raise revenue to finance our development priorities.

UPROAR

Rugunda’s statement came in the wake of growing opposition to the taxes that have reportedly caused losses to telecom companies.

Within weeks of implementation, government was already facing a suit in the Constitutional Court, a petition against the taxes was filed before the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga while a group of MPs was working on a motion to have the taxes reviewed.

This was in addition to protests by a group of activists led by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.

Kyagulanyi addressing fellow demonstrators in down town Kampala on July 11

After facing off with the Police on Kampala streets, Kyagulanyi took the matter on the floor of Parliament.

Other MPs such as Paul Mwiru (Jinja Municipality East) and Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) joined in telling government to refund the money it had deducted in taxes from mobile money users.