Taxpayers to pay social media tax for MPs

Ugandan taxpayers will now have to shoulder an additional burden of paying the Social Media Tax for Members of Parliament (MPs) after Parliament entering into contract with telecom giants MTN Uganda to keep the legislators connected.

According to a notice issued by the Parliamentary Commission, Parliament of Uganda is to pay the monthly Shs 6,000 social media tax officially known as the Over the Top Tax (OTT) plus Shs 30,000 for 5GB data bundles for each of the 459 MPs.

This means Parliament will spend Shs 197.8 million annually on social media tax and data bundles.

MTN Uganda Limited emerged the best bidder, according to the bid documents released on May 2, while Airtel Uganda and Africell Uganda were eliminated in the preliminary stages of the restricted domestic bidding process.

Robina Nabanja, the Kakumiro Woman MP and member of the Parliamentary Commission defended the move, saying it is right for the house to pay for the legislator’s OTT and provide them data since they are doing people’s work on Ipads provided through tax payer’s money.

“This is purely work; we are working for Ugandans. That is why MPs can put data and pay OTT for their personal phones and personal work. But for Parliament business and access to social media for Parliament business, MPs are not supposed to inject in their money,” Nabanja said.

Attempts to contact Parliament’s Department of communications was futile as the Director of Communications, Chris Obore couldn’t be reached by the time of filing this story.

The tax was introduced in July last year, Parliament approved the social media tax that requires every social media user in Uganda to pay Shs 200 to access social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

It tax drew outrage from several Ugandans saying it would curtail access to information.

Several legislators supported the social media tax saying it would generate additional income for government.