KAMPALA – The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has sanctioned the cancellation of a contract that would see Parliament pay the Over the Top (OTT) tax for legislators.
Speaker Kadaga made the remarks while addressing the press at Parliament on Thursday, June 20.
In a tender awarded to telecom giant, MTN Uganda, Parliament had agreed to pay the tax calculated at a monthly rate of UGX6000 OTT tax and monthly 5GB bundle at UGX30,000 for each of the 458 legislators.
According to tender documents, up to UGX198M would be spent on the packages – sparking off public outcry with condemnation of Members of Parliament for demonstrating selfishness by evading a tax they imposed on Ugandans.
But Ms Kadaga revealed that MPs must pay their individual taxes and that she has directed the clerk to Parliament to cancel the contract for the provision of OTT and Data services to MPs.
“On OTT, there’s nothing to negotiate. I told the clerk we are not going to accept people paying for our OTT. We should pay it ourselves and there’s no debate on that issue as far as I’m concerned,” Ms Kadaga said.
Kakumiro Woman MP Robinah Nabbanja and Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang – both Parliament Commissioners- had defended the expenditure saying that it’s a way of facilitating work that requires online presence for Members of Parliament.
They said that the iPads that were given to the members require active data services to be functioning.
In September 2018 during the debate on the Excise Duty Bill (2018), Obongi County MP Kaps Fungaroo asked Parliament to intervene because they were not accessing social media platforms on their iPads due to rigidities from the service provider.
Parliament approved the social media tax that requires every social media user in Uganda to pay a daily UGX200 in order to access social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on May 30, last year.
The tax drew outrage from several Ugandans, saying it would curtail access to information.
Several lawmakers supported the social media tax, saying it would generate additional income for the government.