“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke
The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) must be a idle force of civil servants, a big bunch of lazy people who has very little to do or even trying to make up work. Because yesterday, a breaking news, which shouldn’t be breaking news is happening again.
The UCC and the Telecom Companies have had several of drives and issues with their SIM-Cards over the last few years. As the companies was even suspended from trading SIM-Cards for a while. That is what has happen. However, it is no returning. The UCC and National Resistance Movement (NRM) likes to toy around with the public and the Telecoms as they are fountains of funds, apparently.
In this spectrum, lets build a timeline before yesterday. The first deadline for registration of SIM-Cards was on 21st April 2017. Second deadline was on the 19th May 2017, but that wasn’t enough either. Because of that, it was postponed to the 22nd May 2017. Alas, that was not the finalization. The registration run continued until 30th August 2017. This was the final one of that SIM-Card Registration drive.
The issues in the last go around was between National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) with the National ID Number (NIN) activation on the SIM-Cards, as well as the technical difficulties with the UCC and the Telecoms. Therefore, as the OTT Tax is in play, the state should know, whose is who and know who pays the tax or not. The SIM-Cards should be registered in some sort of system already.
That was the issue of 2017. Now the UCC is revising this and reissuing the same sort of activity. For whatever reason they have. As they now did on the 29th March 2019. Why it is weird, is that the Telecoms had new guidelines selling the SIM-Cards from beginning of August 2017. Therefore, the need shouldn’t be there?
However, this is the latest: “The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has directed all telecom companies to verify the identity of their subscribers who hold multiple phone SIM cards” (91.2 Crooze FM, 29.03.2019).
Didn’t the new guidelines of August 2017 set the status clear of the ownership of the SIM-Cards, even if they have dozens of phones. The new guidelines from two years ago should have been proper and established the ownership. Especially, since all the SIM-Cards needs the NIN have to be registered now. Alas, that is apparently not the case.
How, bad can you do a job? Or how lazy are you, since you have to repeat it again? After reviewing and revising it, two years ago and tanking the Telecom Industry, because in the last go-around the state blocked the sale of the SIM-Cards. Therefore, expect something similar in this circus too. Expect it going back and fourth. Suddenly, the President will come with an final order combined with the Minister of ICT Frank Tumwebaze.
That is just how these things goes. The State House has to have a finale say, before the stamp of approval. Than, this saga might be close to end, before it returns to years later with a new modification. Peace.
Yet again, more things are revealing the dire consequences of the new Exercise Duty tax that the Parliament voted through. This time it shows the significant amount of money that is already exchanged through the Mobile Money, as this is the sole way of transferring it without having bank-accounts or being involved with banking sector in general. This is made for the ones who doesn’t have a local bank and needs to transfer money to relatives, friends or even to pay-off bills through the phone. Therefore, these services are vital.
This is numbers taken from the Bank of Uganda, in their fresh Annual Supervision Report. Where the rates and usage nation-wide is presented. It shows significance. Also, the massive amount of taxation it really is.
“Mobile money services
As at end-December 2017, there were seven mobile money service providers and these included; MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom, Africell, M-Cash, EzeeMoney and Micropay. The number of registered customers across the networks increased by 8.4 percent, from 21.6 million as at December 2016 to 23.4 million as at December 2017. Mobile money activity continued its growth, during 2017. Transaction values increased by 44.0 percent to USh.63.1 trillion in 2017, up from USh.43.8 trillion recorded in 2016. The number of transactions rose by 23.8 percent over the same period” (Annual Supervision Report December 2017 | Bank Of Uganda).
Because if the whole you of 2017, the total mass of funds transferring through Mobile Money are on the levels of 63 trillion shillings, that means that if this was taxed with the new Exercise Duties, it would be about 630 billion shillings in direct taxes on the money. That is because the new tax is 1% on every transaction. That means that the total value being delivered from one to another is slimmer, as the one percentage of the transmitted funds will be collected as direct tax. That means if someone is sending a 1000 shillings somewhere, that means 10 shillings are directly taxed and leaves behind 990 shillings to the ones receiving it. There are also other taxes, but on this alone, there is certain amounts to be eaten by the state.
If this amount of tax doesn’t stop the growth nothing will. This is sort of amount will stop the amounts, maybe even people will send less times than before. Because they have to consider the added taxes on every single transaction. They want to make sure their money goes where it is supposed to and not give a too big of a slice to the government for the usage of the mobile money services.
Clearly, the state has hit a growing industry, but instead of making it increase, these sort of measures make it decrease and the cost will be carried by the consumers and not by the banks. They are still amassing in profits and taking their costs for the services as it is. Not like the consumer is transferring the money for free. They are not in it for charity, but for profits.
So just think about the massive cost it will be with the transactions and the lack of consideration the state had when they voted it through parliament with lack of due diligence. It wasn’t only the expensive social media tax, but it is this on top of it. To earn revenue on the hard earn cash that people are transferring through their phones. Peace.
Yep, the biggest bank and the Bretton Woods Organization called the World Bank has commended the works of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his plans for added taxes. That comes from the similar institution like International Monetary Fund, that ordered Uganda to follow the Structural Adjustment Plan (SAP), therefore, the IMF that fixed more privatization without lacking investments. Are now okaying a higher rising taxes on the Republic’s citizens. This is done, while the economy is not strengthen, but with added external and internal loans. Therefore, the rise of GDP and use of loans, as well as repayments on those loans will sooner or later hurt the economy. Even with the rise of taxes. This will be start of vicious cycle where the state is issuing loans and taxes, while the revenue is used to repay loans, not development. It is basically. But before I go into the deep of the part of the troubling take from the World Bank. Let me just show you quickly the result of the SAP and their advice there.
“The studies also make it clear that for SAP-type policies to have a chance of success, certain preconditions are necessary. The public sector had certain social responsibilities that the current framework has pushed it out of but without “a proper handing over” to the private sector. The assumption and hope were that the market would fill the gap left by the retreating state. Clearly this has not happened. There is therefore need for Government either to retain certain key social sectors, or only hand them over to the private sector only when the latter is ready to effectively take them over. Clearly non-profit making aspects of social responsibility cannot and do not get taken over by the private sector. For poverty to be reduced there are certain social responsibilities or even whole sectors that can only effectively be handled by the public sector. Welfare systems and subsidies to farmers in the developed world attest to the need for the retention of these key areas by the public sector. Therefore a policy that proscribes such a hand-over must also ensure that it is done in a verifiable manner so that the private sector can be held to account. Civil society has in the past tried to fill the gap but this has been done in an ad hoc manner” (Kevin Akoyi Makokha – ‘STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PARTICIPATORY REVIEW INITIATIVE (SAPRI) – UGANDA COUNTRY REPORT: A synthesis of the Four SAPRI Studies’ September 2001).
So, when the last system from the World Bank and IMF was introduced the system and the government wasn’t ready to privatize, however, that didn’t stop them or the government to do so. Especially since the funds and loans at the time came with the hitch of doing so. Therefore, the troubles with the privatization and the lacking oversight is also partly because of these programs subsidized by these organizations. That is why the World Bank and IMF should be more careful professing what sort of thing would be genuine and sincere, since they have messed up before. It isn’t only the State House who has messed up, he has gotten help and followed the procedures of these mechanisms. If not, he wouldn’t be able to eat such vast amounts of donor funding in the past. This is well-known, but the lack of oversight, is because of the will of wanting to have control and a say in everything. That is why the letter from the President to Minister of Finance, is the reason for the new levied taxes. So, if you wonder why I have distrust to the World Bank and IMF, it is because of their history and that the public is paying for it, because their impact on the governments for the reasons. That these states should be guinea-pigs for the economy belief of trickling down economics, even as the results has begged differ if it really drips back into the system again. Which it doesn’t because the ones that gets a lot want to keep it and get some more. No dole it out to anyone they can find.
Here is what the World Bank stated today: “In the special section of the Update, the report analyses how Uganda could raise more domestic revenues to support its development. Uganda’s tax system is one of the most modern in the region, but revenue collections, at 14 percent of GDP, are low, and way below its tax potential. Tax avoidance and evasion, partly resulting from generous tax exemptions to investors, weak tax administration, and a large informal sector (now at 80 percent), pose challenges to increasing revenues. Up to 5 percent of GDP is lost annually in tax leakages. Personal income tax contributes roughly 18 percent of GDP compared to up to 40 percent in developed countries. VAT collections amount to 4 percent of GDP, but would rise to 6 percent if there were no exemptions. The report suggests that Uganda could widen its tax base by tapping into areas that are outside the tax net; applying tax instruments correctly and fairly; improving efficiency, transparency and accountability in tax administration; and delivering better public services” (World Bank – ‘Improving Taxation to Finance Uganda’s Development’ 15.05.2018).
Therefore, the World Bank likes the idea of adding more tax on the Mobile Money transactions and the movement of digital cash, as well as on Airtime and other needed things. The ones that hasn’t a bank-account or the ability to fund or even try to get a loans from the banking system. Are okayed by the World Bank as possible targets for taxes. This isn’t transparent, but making it more expensive to be poor, as the rates to transmit and the use mobile money will come. The companies whose use this method will bill the users, they will not take the hit. The same with all the traders and the importers of all the other items that was on the lists of the newly taxed items.
I doubt these new taxes will do any good, it will just be more funds for the elites, the NRM and the President to eat. They are not delivering government services with the trillions of shillings they are using now. They are billing up to their asses and spending rampant, without having the revenue. That is why the rising debts are there. Instead of living frugal and thinking of the future, the NRM and President Museveni are eating like there is no tomorrow!
State House, the President and the Cabinet are eating heavy, they are not delivering, they have no plans to do so. If so, they give locally when needed, but the lack of transparency and accountability, is the reason for missing funds. Recently even the documents from the GAVI Funds was taken from the Ministry of Health. Therefore, a government who cannot be trusted with funds giving donations to help the sick, how can we believe the tax put on Mobile Money will go to roads or teachers?
I doubt that, I am not that naive, this NRM has proven for 32 years, that they are eating and not caring. The World Bank can commend and praise. While I condemn, until they prove that they money are delivered to the schools, that the teachers have their salaries and the civil servants are properly paid. Not just hiring some random Cubans to fix the issues for a short time. That is not how to build a national health care system. That is how to mock the ones you already have. Peace.
On the 19th April 2018, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has sent a letter ordering all Internet Service Providers (ISP), that they are ordered to block “unauthorized” Online Data. That meaning the internet service providers can because of this block pages and news-outlets that isn’t accepted by the Government of Uganda. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) are really having a warfare on the content online. As it has already added taxes on airtime, on mobile money and also now asking to block pages too.
We can surely know that UCC will really struggle to give authorization to media houses, web-pages and content that questions the government. The letter from the government says it very clearly:
“The purpose of this letter therefore, is to DIRECT you to IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND the provision of caring services to any Online Data communication service provider (online/Electronic Media News provider) that is not listed above and/or has not presented an authorization certificate or other express clearance from the Uganda Communication Commission” (Letter from Fred Otunnu to ISP – ‘Letter to ISPs on Unauthorized Online Data Communications Service Providers’ 19.04.2018).
They have put a list of 14 companies, where only two are authorized, these are Nile Post News Uganda Limited and China Haijang Online Africa Ltd. There are dozens other which is not, these are in process, the ones known are Chimps Media Ltd and Trumpet Media Ltd. Therefore, many pages are not here. There are dozens of outlets not mentioned or asked for authorization from the UCC.
That the UCC are attacking the online content is clear. The UCC are using their power and force to silence certain media. This is to stop the content the government doesn’t see fit. They are now trying to get all companies, who are using the platforms online to register, to give license and operate. That the UCC are having sleepless nights is evident. As they have already made it hard to register sim-cards lately, also the same government who wants to monitor porn. So this is continuation of the trying to control all online content.
This should be a field day for the Attorneys working Pro-Bono for the Online Content makers as the censorship of the government comes into force. Just like it did, when the UCC had a black-out and VPN during the General Election of 2016. The NRM are really afraid of free-spirited people and the UCC are losing their marbles.
This is to show, that if your not registered at us, we will order the ISPs to not show your page, block your ideas, your content and everything you got through telecommunications. Only way to get through that is using VPN. So the citizens should use VPN to the content from pages and apps that the government has blocked. Peace.
You know there fiscal problems within the Government of Uganda (GoU). The GoU is on the rocks, as they are establishing more loans, more interests to pay and has leveraged their forex exchange, when they are levying today’s amount of new taxes. This is coming as reports of lacking hiring for the Civil Service, The Ministry of Public Service has suspended hiring of new positions in the districts and at the government institutions. This is happening, as the amount of cronies around the President is growing. Therefore, the wastage of funds are in and around the President, who can pledge funds as he wishes and give Presidential Handshakes to whoever he likes or needs. Therefore, today is sad day for transparency, as the state is eating itself, but not taking care of the needed services.
We know the state is poor, when the lacking banking-service and with the need of Mobile Money and Airtime on the Cellphones are getting hit by a tax. This is not social media tax, but is that the subscriber and user of the services, will get a withholding tax of 10% on transactions on Mobile Money and Airtime. This means, every time a Ugandan or someone buys airtime, in the price they are paying an added 10 % on the total price of the usage of minutes of airtime or making the transaction of funds between two funds more costly. This is really hitting the breadwinners and the ones who are servicing mobile money from the towns to villages.
Just to prove to how much the added cost on the Mobile Money is wished, as the withholding tax, they are adding direct also the excise tax on this from 10% to 15%, that means the added is 5% more on each transaction. If that isn’t excessive, just think about the two other taxes as well. Therefore, the state has added three taxes on using the phones. The citizens will have to plan more transactions, as they are more costly and will be less transactions of the amount, since the tax will shave off the amount of shillings sent to the fellow they wanted to give needed money through these services.
They are adding even more on every telecommunication services, not just the hit of withholding tax on it, but they are even adding an excise duty on it as well, meaning there are two pieces of taxes put on the same services, but at different times. Making the expenses of using the cellphones, hitting the roof and the value of the airtime dwindles, as you are paying more tax on each minute use. This excise duty is put on the level of 12% as well. So, expect the prices on airtime to rocket, as this hit both the agents to pay more tax on each, and also the cost of actually calling too. This is funds that the Telecommunication Companies will get back from the consumer, meaning citizens will pay more being in touch.
As they continue to give price hikes on necessities, they are putting a levy of 200shs on each liter of cooking oil, this meanings the price for making rollex or banana-pancakes will go up. Since before you buy the eggs and the flour to make your dish. You will pay more for each bottle, while the state gets simple taxation on this single item. It might seems pointless, but all fried foods will be more costly to make and a Samosa will cost more to make, therefore, expect a price hike on the hawkers foods in any stage where you waiting.
These are just some of the measures done by the state, there are several more, but this is really hitting the average citizen usage of phones and also cooking. This are just two items on a long lists of new taxes put on the people. Clearly, the state see the need for spikes of prices, growing inflation and lack of monetary control to come, as the chickens come to roost and the costs of debt services is hitting the fan.
The ones that has to pay for that, isn’t the elite, but all of the citizens who spends time outside their homes and buys into services. Which, means all of them. Peace.
As the Telecommunication companies like MTN are praised the by the government, the National Resistance Movement have clearly let the economy become addicted and need of the services provided by the different Telecom’s and how the operate as village banks. The further proof of this comes when looking into a study and of the value of Mobile Money. This is done by all of the Cellphone providers in different names, but has the same outcome. Either by sending money to village funds, paying for utilities or even add airtime for a friend. The report conducted and made by Economy Policy Research Center at Makerere University we’re an interesting read. Here is the quotes worth assessing over. The historical backdrop of the vast amounts of trillions shillings in the operations. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that one third of Ugandan citizens use the Mobile Money and average rate of monies sent during a month are 250,000. With the amount of people and amounts traded by Mobile Money, it is a booming business and first trying of banking. But doing it directly by the phone and not at the offices of Standard Charted or Barclays. Just take a look!
“After 5 years of operation of mobile money services, the average adoption rate stands at 250,000 persons per month from inception (March 2009) to December 2015. The increase in access to formal financial services, from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013, was partially due to increased access to mobile money 1 See UBOS (2016), “National Population and Housing Census 2014”, Uganda Bureau of Statistics: Kampala services (EPRC 2013). Thirty-five percent of Ugandan adults have a registered mobile money account (Intermedia 2016). An additional 13 percent access services via somebody else’s account, including that of an agent. Mobile money account ownership surpasses the use of both banking and nonbanking financial institutions (Ibid)” (Makwejje & Lakuma, P: 6, 2017).
“Finally, mobile money balances are sensitive to monetary policy shocks, while the mobile money values of transactions are not. These results suggest that 1) Mobile money has helped households to substitute liquid and other lumpy assets for financial assets; 2) Mobile money has modest macroeconomic impacts; 3) Mobile money has the potential to improve the effectiveness of the conduct of monetary policy. These results provide additional evidence for policy makers to continue supporting the growth of mobile money platforms. In particular, policy makers should provide the policy and regulatory framework through which mobile money balances can become interest-bearing assets. This will further strengthen the monetary policy transmission mechanism because economic agents will be able to more directly respond to changes in the policy rate” (Makwejje & Lakuma, P: 17-18, 2017).
The authorities clearly has to assess it and look over the Telecom’s Mobile Money operations, as this is important part of transactions and business operations in Uganda. When such vast amounts of people using it and benefits from it. Where their funds turn digital and get traded instead of having dozens of shillings in their pockets as for balance for their trades. Also, gives the ability to send over needed cash up-country or even to family members. Therefore, the structure and the balances of people’s lives can be monitored and shows the interest-bearing assets. The help it has provided the society and also introduce a form of banking institutions to the public. Though this study did not look into the fortunes made by this sort of transactions compared to ordinary banking practices in Uganda. Which, would be interesting expose considering difference of cost for the consumer and Ugandan doing so. Peace.
Mawejje, Joseph & Lakuma, Paul C. – ‘MACROECONOMIC EFFECTS OF MOBILE MONEY IN UGANDA’ (June 2017) – Economic Policy Research Centre, Makerere University