Social Media Tax: The Breakdown of the Key Statements from the Hansard of 30th May 2018!

Joshua Anywarach:

Mr Speaker, for heaven’s sake, anywhere in the world – if anything can be cheaper and spur economic development, it is communication (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

This is weird, but not surprising, it is striking that these quotes has not been in the spotlight more. As the Exercise Duty, which was passed on the 30th May 2018. This after just two barely months of digging into the costs, added revenue and even making it possible. This was a hasted taxes of the public. Where the added costs was not put in perspective. There was talk about the poor and the regions without banks, but not like the National Resistance Movement (NRM) cares, because you don’t have to use Mobile Money, you can send the money by donkeys for free. However, the Western Union isn’t having the donkey express anymore, even the NRM will go back-to-future with these taxes. Making sure the Social Media is silenced and costing even more for people to be involved online.

Silas Aogon, who was against said this:

Mr Chairperson, without the bundles that we buy, we cannot access WhatsApp. I know that very well. You have got to have mobile money and then you can use it to buy Megabytes (MBs) before you can access WhatsApp. How do you tax what has already been taxed? That is the issue. If you doubt what we are saying, let us then do some practicals here and then you will see” (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

That is just barely the ones speaking against Social Media Tax before the passing of the bill. However, there was more NRM MPs, who was defending it. These should be remembered, because they are silencing the poorest, because of revenue and because of their reckless spending on themselves. They added perks and salaries, are paid by the hardships of people, who will be doubled taxed, not only on airtime and data-bundles, but now for using social media too. This because the state doesn’t care.

James Kakooza said:

This tax is optional; if you want you pay, if you don’t want you don’t pay. (Applause) That is what is under the law. That is the information I wanted to give” (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

It maybe partly optional, but people are used to WhatsApp, Facebook and other Apps for communications. Therefore, it isn’t that optional, except for the ones who are advanced age, like the President himself. Maybe Kakooza should delete his social media profiles and try to be optional outside of the online world.

David Bhati said:

If you are using WhatsApp or Viber, the Shs 200 which we are proposing here will actually translate to Shs 70,000 per year. That is what we are talking about. It is Shs 70,000 the entire year –(Interjections)– You are making a contribution of Shs 70,000 for the whole year; can you imagine! It is as simple as that” (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

It isn’t like your jumping in once and never again. Its very few who just are one day inside a social network or part of group talking on WhatsApp or Viber. They are there daily, because if your wanting to get information or be in communications with friends. You do it daily. Therefore, if your part of social interactions online, this is really just making sure the youths, ordinary people are taxed for interacting online. Soon, Bhati will send birds with messages and I am not talking Twitter. I am awaiting that. Since he can choose that without paying tax himself.

Robert Kasule Sebunya said:

We have a dilemma as technology is changing every day. People are no longer using the normal calls that Government has been taxing. Excise duty of 12 per cent has been paid per normal call. Now because technology is turning into voice messaging, WhatsApp calls and others, we are losing revenue. Even institutions are losing money on normal calls because people are changing as technology changes” (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

That the public has decided to call through the data-bundles are still taxed VAT and Income Tax, the Telecommunication Companies are taxed and so is the income of the agents selling the airtime and the data-bundles. Therefore, if anyone would call on WhatsApp or Viber, they are already paying tax. Now they just have a second wall of payment and securing the state, both for the nut and bolt, but also using the tool itself. So, he defends double taxation. Kudos!

Otto Odonga said:

I did economics at the university, mind you. (Laughter) WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook are ostentatious commodities. They are almost like perfume. The ordinary man in the village can do without it. (Applause) We are looking for a certain category of people who do not mind about the Shs 200. Personally, I do not mind because I need WhatsApp. It is a tax, which is targeting the elites – those who are ostentatious. It does not affect the ordinary man in Pader. That is the information I wanted to give” (Hansard, 30.05.2018).

You have so ancient relics, someone who is falling behind in times. I hope Mr. Otto is not on any Social Media, because his defense is a disgrace in 2018. That it is an extra service. It is true it is not like water and food, or even basic education. However, this is the way people communicate and have moved forwards too. That is why activists have groups on WhatsApp and Facebook, it is like the MP thinks it is only for Kololo and other high-rising neighborhoods in and around Kampala.

This is the look over the Hansard from 30th May 2018. That shows how some of the MPs thinks, this was only about the Social Media Tax, not the Mobile Money Tax or the Cooking Oil. Hope someone else dig into that. That would also deserve criticisms. Because the NRM is really using all tactics to defend the need for revenue, without seeing how they are misusing funds and also the grand-corruption that these funds are going too. Peace.

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