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BY KORIR JUMA, 31ST MAY 2018-Uganda MPs have passed a controversial bill that imposes taxes on Social Media services and mobile money transactions.
Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018 critics say that the law will violate the people’s freedom of expression online while the taxing of mobile money transactions will be a blow to the low income earners.
WhatsApp users will starting July 1, 2018 part with at least Sh.5 (Ush200) daily levy which will amount to Sh.1,900 per year, which junior Planning minister David Bahati is in full support of.
“We are putting that into the mind that’s why we are only increasing it by 1% not 2%. These people we are taxing need free medical care, education and all services,” said Bahati.
However younger MPs led by Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyaggulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, Padyere County’s Joshua Anywarach, and Silas Aogon of Kumi Municipality dismissed it as double taxation arguing that since WhatsApp is accessed through already taxed airtime, another levy would be an infringement on the users’ rights.
Supporters of the bill did however say that the needs of the poor Ugandans were well considered as the revenue collected will be used to provide them with services such as ‘education, better healthcare and roads.’
Opposition MPs on their part said that the government should fight corruption instead of burdening the poor.
“We are losing money to corruption yet we want to tax the poor who are trying to survive. I don’t want to be part of the parliament that strangles the life out of Ugandans,” said MP Katusabe Godfrey.