By Abraham Kizza
KAMPALA. Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who is also the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, revealed on Wednesday that Government is currently reviewing the mobile money and Social Media tax.
Dr. Rugunda told Parliament that the review comes after a lot of public discussion about the recently introduced taxes on mobile money transactions and Over the Top Services (OTT) commonly known as social media.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker and Hon. Colleagues, the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill 2018 was presented to this August House, debated and passed by this Parliament. It was subsequently assented to by His Excellency the President and consequently became an Act of Parliament,” he said.
The Act imposes a 1% Levy on receiving, payments and withdraws through mobile money platforms. In addition, it imposes a specific charge of Uganda Shillings 200 on over the top (OTT) services per day of access.
“Since the Act came into force on 1st July 2018; Government has noted public concerns regarding some of the elements in implementation of tax on mobile money transactions and OTT,” he said.
The Prime Minister added: “H.E. the President has provided guidance on the matter and encouraged further discussion with a view to reaching consensus on how we should raise the much needed revenue to finance our budget and undertake the development agenda we have set for ourselves without causing unbearable burden to the citizens.”
He said that Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the concerns of the public and its implications on the budget.
Rugunda said the review is being expedited to ensure that Government presents an Amendment of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 to Parliament for debate on Thursday next week (19th July 2018).
Members of Parliament will therefore have the opportunity to debate and consult widely to guide Parliament during the consideration and debate of the Amendment Bill.
“I would like to assure this Parliament that Government is committed to ensuring that the tax on mobile money and OTT are designed taking into account the public concerns and balancing the need to raise revenue to finance our development agenda,” said the Prime Minister.
Before the Prime Minister's statement, two people were arrested on Wednesday as Police dispersed a social media tax protest at City Square in Kampala.
The Police engaged in running battles with a group of protesters, among them Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), as they attempted to march to Parliament in protest of that tax.