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Parliament has no powers to stop social media tax-Kadaga

Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga said OTT Law can only be changed by an amendment but not a mere directive. (FILE PHOTO)

PARLIAMENT- The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday afternoon issued a ruling on the contentious Social media and Mobile money taxes, saying Parliament has no powers to interfere with a law that has already been enacted.

Kadaga gave her ruling during a plenary sitting where she told Parliament that once a Bill becomes law, it can only be changed through an amendment and not a mere directive.

According to Kadaga, whereas there is public outcry, the government should be allowed to make adjustments through the proposed review, hence asked the government to expedite its amendments process short of which, a private member member’s Bill will be granted for discussion.

“I therefore urge government to move expeditiously and table the Excise Duty Amendment Bill 2018. I urge you to listen to the people of Uganda and bring the proposal to the House. We don’t have capacity to interfere in any way,” Kadaga said.

Despite the ruling, a number of MPs including Medard Segoona and Paul Mwiru demanded to have government compelled to refund the money deducted from Ugandans on deposit fees before the decision was shifted by Uganda Revenue Authority.

On Wednesday, the Speaker suspended debate on the controversial Social Media and Mobile money taxes, on grounds that she needed time to consult her legal team on whether Parliament has the powers to suspend implementation of an Act it has passed and has been assented to by the President.

This was after Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda tabled a statement in which he revealed that government is in the process of reviewing the Act, and the new amendments set to be tabled on 19th July 2018.

“Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the concern of the public and its implications for the budget. The review is being expedited to ensure that government presents an amendment of the Excise Duty Amendment Act 2018 to present to this August House for debate on Thursday next week,” said Rugunda.

Parliament passed into law the Excise Duty Amendment Bill 2018 on 30th May 2018, that saw Government slap a 1% tax on all mobile money transactions that would see Government generate Shs115Bn.

The same tax proposal also imposed Shs200 daily levy on over the top (OTT) social media like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter that would see Government raise Shs284Bn.

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