PARLIAMENT – Parliament is set to publish a report on the debate that gave rise to the controversial social media and mobile money taxes Friday.
The revelation was made Wednesday in a tweet on Parliament’s official twitter handle whose message read in part;
“Following the need for information on the debate on the Excise Duty(Amendment) Bill,2018, tomorrow, we bring you a verbatim report from the Hansard of 30th May 2018.”
Parliament passed into law the Excise Duty Amendment Bill 2018 on 30th May 2018 with Government slapping a 1% tax on all mobile money transactions that would see Government generate Shs115Bn.
The same Bill proposed a shs200 daily levy on over the top (OTT) social media like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter that Government raise Shs284Bn.
Taking effect on 1st July 2018, the social media tax caused public uproar with some MPs coming out to distance themselves from the decisions of that day, and pushed the blame to their NRM counterparts.
The vocal Kyadondo East MP, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi took to his Facebook page to distance himself from the decision citng that he tried to fight the bad tax, but his efforts turned futile when fellow Legislators refused to back his plans.
“I personally tried to persuade fellow MPs on the floor of the House that taxing social media would amount to double taxation. But would they listen? Sadly, majority of them do not take orders from the people who elected them but from State House and that’s how we end up here. No matter how we raise voices for the common person, as long as that House has majority anti-people MPs, they will always vote in favor (favour) of the dictator’s position,” Kyagulanyi wrote on his Bobi Wine page.
However, the official record of the Parliament proceedings-Hansard indicated that Kyagulanyi’s contribution during the debate was only on mobile money tax and he never said anything about the social media tax.
Allow me to inform you that over taxation is not only punishment but oppression. Where I come from, mobile money is not just a business but a livelihood. If the taxation was levied once, we would not argue so much about it but since it is mobile money, it is charged on every transaction, received or sent. That means if that person receives that money, they are being taxed on their salary; when they pay for their children’s fees, they get taxed; and they continue to be taxed at every level, which I believe is oppression. At the end of the day, honourable minister, you realise that life is actually being taxed. Somebody is being taxed multiple times,” MP Kyagulanyi said on 30th May 2018.
In fact, Carter Anywarach, Padyer County MP was the only MP who fiercely fought against the social media tax and in the course of the debate, he was joined by Silas Aogon (Kumi Municipality) and Elijah Okupa (Kasilo County).
Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of ICT fired back at the Kyagulanyi and Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) protest of the taxes saying they are simply populists.
“They are just being populists, they want to be seen. They were in Parliament. Go on the Handsard, what did Kyagulayi say. Go on the Handsard, what did Karuhanga say? If they understood very well if the tax was detrimental,” said Tumwebaze.
Kyagulanyi defended his stand blaming the passing of the controversial Bill on the NRM MPs who command the majority numbers in the 10th Parliament.
He explained: “That law was passed, but we debated it and as you all know it is the numbers that count. Many times I get ashamed of the fact that I belong to that Parliament. We are going to moblise the whole country to exercise their constitutional right and we are going to succeed because this tax is draining blood out of our bodies.”
Karuhanga also stood by his position, “This Government suffers from a very dangerous addiction, which is tax addiction. They will tax anything.”