Scrap mobile money, social media tax; youth leaders tell government

Youth leaders under the National Youth Council (NYC) are demanding that government scraps the controversial Over the Top (OTT) commonly known as social media tax that was introduced at the beginning of the financial year.

Addressing the press on Wednesday morning at their offices in Ntinda, NYC Secretary Legal Affairs Said Kilalira said that the tax is unfair, retrogressive and counterproductive.

He argued that OTT is intended to reduce on the use of social media by youths and yet this is the most convenient and affordable means of communication and platform for information gathering.

“These are some of the venues upon which youths can gather information and do research at a low cost compared to other means,” said Kilalira

This financial year, Government under the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 introduced a 1% mobile money tax and daily levy of Shs 200 on every SIM card for access to social media platforms.

The taxes attracted public resistance, prompting the executive to table a new bill to amend the tax law with an intention of reducing the mobile money tax from 1% to 0.5% on withdrawals.

Kilalira says that rather than introducing a tax on social media access in the name of raising more revenue, government should widen its tax base by levying a higher tax on activities and services that do not directly affect the ordinary population.

“And such include sports betting companies and alcohol wine and spirits. The government should consider taxing such items other than on an item that would be beneficial to the population,” said Kilalira

The NYC Secretary External Relations Edson Rugumayo said, it has become hard and expensive for youths to access and use internet.

He said that in a country with a democratic system of governance, such a tax is no justice to the youths as it limits their freedom of expression.