There are speculations going on there as the biggest Telecom Company MTN Uganda Limited have been under fire since the midst of January 2019. This has been shown over the recent month, as the leadership and executives have been deported. By my count since mid of January, there been four people.
The three firsts was addressed like this by MTN Group:
“MTN Uganda has not been officially notified of the grounds for these arrests and deportations and is trying to establish the precise reasons for the deportations. We are understandably concerned about these developments and the wellbeing of all our employees. MTN Uganda is fully committed to respecting and operating within the laws of the country. Notes to the editor: On Saturday, 19 January 2019, the MTN Uganda Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Prentout, was arrested by police at Entebbe airport upon arrival from a business trip abroad. On the morning of Monday 21 January 2019, the MTN Uganda Head of Sales and Distribution, Annie Bilenge Tabura, was arrested by unidentified security personnel upon arrival at the MTN headquarter offices, in Kololo, Kampala. Subsequently, both Mr Prentout and Mrs Bilenge have been deported from Uganda to their home countries, France and Rwanda respectively. On the 22 January 2019, Elza Muzzolini, Head of Mobile Financial Services was also deported from Uganda. – Issued by MTN Group Regulatory and Corporate Affairs” (MTN Group, 23.01.2019).
Therefore, three people has already been deported, this being Prentout, Tabura and Muzzolini. They have all been banished from the Republic. Today, it has escalated again, as CEO Wim Vanhelleputte, whose also has been interrogated and been questioned by ISO/CMI during January 2019. Was today on the 14th February 2019 deported to Belgium by the authorities.
Clearly, the state is retaliating, as they are fearing for their safety and the data shedding the company is doing. As there been speculation that the company has had disgruntled staff leaking intelligence to Rwandan Intelligence Service. This has been reported by various of online news-outlets. Therefore, some thinks it is connected to this, that the President and the regime is afraid of this. That is why these people are all deported from the Republic.
It is clear, that there something going on behind the scenes. As the Security Organizations summons, interrogate and deport MTN executives from the Republic. This is happening, as the state are trying to silence the MTN or stop leaked intelligence to Rwanda. We don’t know if that is true or what. But what we do now, is that the Ugandan government and authorities are acting swiftly and retaliates against the high-ranking officials within the Telecom. Peace.
As we are aware and since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) dropped their Road Map for the General Election of 2020/21, the whole system has started to flair up for it. Both with Electoral Reforms and other measures, to secure swift results in favour of the President and secure his cronies. That is just the way it is.
As we will see in the Budget Framework Paper for Financial Year 2019/2020, the government and their agencies are clearly gearing up for elections. As the NRM wants to make sure the appointed and anointed get their cut ahead of scheduled elections.
The first ones whose secured and getting well funded is the Residential District Commanders, they are getting 5,5bn shillings to promote government policies. There is also estimated right before the elections, the state will go from 128 districts in 2018/19 to 135 districts in 2019/2020, there the state has to use more on them just for the need of new RDCs too.
To give RDCs possibility to do their work, the Office of the President has asked for 25.4bn shillings to buy 165 Double Cabin Pickups, but there is only small fry for what is coming up.
The State House itself is gearing up, as the Office of President has asked for an allocation of 741.1bn shillings.. Just to give a feeling of the changes of gear, is that in National Budget Framework for Financial Year 2018/19, alone, the State House got 265,342bn shillings. We can see a significant change ahead of the coming elections.
To top it off, the logistical support, welfare and security to H.E the President, Vice President require 118.38bn shillings. Therefore, the Presidency, the State House and everything concerning that is much more expensive in Election Times and ahead of campaigns. As proven by the Report delivered to the Parliament.
This are just small pieces of what the Committee and what Jesca Ababiku MP delivered the Parliament, as requested to secure funding and also more funds to certain aspects. As it is fitting the elections and the timing for more cash to certain places. We saw it before the General Election in 2016 and is seeing it now. Repeating itself, getting budget for cars and more expenses paid. More funding to the State House and President. Just as programmed. To think otherwise is to be blind to what is up.
This is just what they do, not building institutions or such, but buying to time to linger in Office. Peace.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS ON THE BUDGET FRAMEWORIT FOR F’Y 2OL9/12O – 2023/2024, Parliament of Uganda, January 2019
We knew that the statements of 2018, as the loyal ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze hadn’t done his due diligence, as the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) issued a Social Media Tax last year after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance asking for the opportunity to tax this.
That has no been done over the last few months, but as the realization of the effects are coming. The forewarning of CSBAG and others wasn’t listen to. I wrote that it lacked due diligence of the tax in June 2018 and today. As I open Daily Monitor and seeing that Frankie Boy has changed his ways. He has opened his eyes and seeing what some of us saw all along. As the cost of content, the cost of using social media and that this has ensured that it is less viable. Since, its the elites who can use it, but the lower level civil servants cannot afford to be online. That was natural, that the 200 shillings per day would be taken directly of the plate and also evaporate funds for investment within the Republic. It is a negative tax, and therefore, naturally have reverse effect, than what the state promised when they levied it.
Tumwebaze statement in July 2018:
“When Ministry of Finance is borrowing, we, the Parliament and civil society are grilling them for borrowing. But when we say this is a sector that has grown in the economy so let’s get a bit of it, let’s get Shs. 6,000 from every holder of a smartphone consuming OTTs, what production capacity will it stifle?” (…) “Is USD 1,4 too much for a citizen to contribute to tax yet you have money to buy a smartphone, minimumly at Shs. 300,000 that is data enabled, and you load bundles of over shs. 30,000? Logically it doesn’t make sense” (Frank Tumwebaze, 17.07.2018).
Tumwebaze statemetn in January 2019:
“The committee chaired by Annet Nyakecho said Over The Top tax seems to negatively affect the consumption of ICT services and products. In response, ICT Minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze admitted that the tax is has had adverse effects on the sector. He said they were “hoodwinked” by their counterparts in the Finance Ministry that the introduction of the tax on the basis that it would widen the country’s revenue base” (Ssebuliba, 2019).
ICT Minister Tumwebaze was so positive and thinking this was the future. This was how to widen the tax-base, but instead. It has as expected made the usage of Social Media expensive. Which means also there is lack of funds for the ones operating within the Social Media and making Online Businesses. This is both happening because of the hard hitting taxes on Social Media, but also the Mobile Money Tax. Both taxes has both the Mobile Money Industry and the ICT development, as they are both having less activity and less usage. Which is natural, when the costs are going up.
The ICT Minister should have known this before speaking so warm about it. Any tax are taking money out of the system. The 200 shillings of doom is clear. The state could have listen to the advice, but didn’t open the ears to it.
In June 30 2018, Daily Monitor reported this: “Civil society organisations have accused the government of trying to stifle debate online with this tax, while others like the Civil society Budget Advocacy group CSBAG, say the tax will have a negative impact on a business.” (Hinamundi, 2018).
So, if the ICT Minister Tumwebaze could have known and stopped this. They could have done the right thing and not continued this path. Instead they have hurt the industry, because they are all blindly following the orders of the President. That is what the state did and they levied the 200 shillings of doom, as it was anticipated by anyone else. Than, the authorities itself. Peace.
Samuel Ssebuliba – ‘Parliament orders assessment on impact of social media tax’ 18.01.2019, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Parliament-orders-assessment-impact-social-media-tax/688334-4940312-rph8g3z/index.html
Collins Hinamundi – ‘How government will collect the new social media tax’ 30.07.2018, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/How-government-will-collect-new-social-media-tax/688334-4639596-juy8n3z/index.html
I wonder if Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ever listens to himself and his own advice. Because his own words so often are compelling to his own activity. Just like yesterday, he continues his rants of wisdom. This is something from the 32 years regime, who continues to pursuit their own game. It is nothing, that seems to stop them in their ways. They are just collecting whatever they can, even when there is no proof of doing any good by doing it. They are pushing taxes on the public, without giving service delivery back. They are just taxing them and making life harder.
President Museveni also spoke on surveillance of the Telecommunication Industry and use of Cellphone. Because he believes that the Companies are not paying their fair share. He is really proving his dictating ways and his micro-managing to the next level. He has the answers for more taxation and the answers to solve the lack of funds for the state reserves. Take a look!
“The third measure is electronic monitoring of telephone calls because the telecoms have been under-declaring their revenues. URA was depending on figures provided by the companies instead of independently monitoring them” (Museveni, 23.11.2018).
“Fourth, we must electronically monitor all money transfers. URA and BoU should do this. We recently started a tax on mobile money and social media. The mobile money tax was good because we had a large portion of people who are in non-monetary GDP.” (Museveni, 23.11.2018).
What is more worrying is that he wants to practically surveillance of the telecom industry. He wants to follow the airtime and cellphones, to check if the Telecommunication Companies are underwriting and lying on the usage of the telephone-services. This is furthering the opportunity of the state to follow and monitor the public, they will have the excuse to do so, by checking if the Airtel, MTN or other companies are telling the truth.
The last piece is that the President says the Mobile Money tax was positive, because it shown the amount of people who living in a non-monetary society. That the Mobile Money Tax are showing to what extent the public are living without bank-accounts and by direct cash services. That is why the Mobile Money has been important all over Uganda, because it has given people ability to pay over another platform, which wasn’t costly, but opening to transfer from instance family members in Kampala to the ones up-country.
Therefore, the Mobile Money tax has made it more costly and more of a bother. This hasn’t made it better, but made life harder. However, the President doesn’t see the good for the people, but the good for his spending in the State House. Which has grown by adding more taxes and not checking the consequences of doing so. Peace.